The House Ag Committee’s top Republican plans to begin hearings on a new farm bill as soon as January, if Republicans take over the House and he becomes the panel's chairman.
Speaking Wednesday at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., also said he would seek to pass a reauthorization of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act in the first quarter of 2023 “so we don’t entangle that in our farm bill" work.
Thompson used the word “intensity” to describe his plans for the committee’s farm bill oversight. He didn't provide a target date for the committee to vote on a new bill, but he said he wanted a funding allocation from the Budget Committee by the summer. Programs in the 2018 farm bill are scheduled to begin expiring Sept. 30, 2023.
“We were two-and-a-half years late starting farm bill hearings,” Thompson said, expressing his view that earlier hearings on the subject were more closely related to climate concerns than farm bill oversight. “Quite frankly, give me an opportunity to lead the agriculture committee and I will ensure that the farm bill doesn’t become a climate bill and we’re not going to have climate titles.”
Thompson, who did acknowledge that “since June, the intensity has been really good in Washington,” said he wants to hold field hearings at the nation’s land-grant institutions and include members of both parties.
Thompson expressed some frustration at the current farm bill feedback process employed by the panel, which has transitioned this summer from subcommittee hearings to a series of listening sessions held in districts of vulnerable Democratic committee members. The latest took place Aug. 22 in Ohio.
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He said that enacting an extension of the 2018 farm bill is "not an option." “We miss the opportunity to make improvements, to make tweaks,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose of doing reauthorization every five years."
What tweaks Thompson and his colleagues will be able to make will depend largely on the pot of money at their disposal. Many farm groups are pressing for new money to be added to the bill’s baseline, with one going as far as to say Thompson was open to the idea. Thompson stopped short of confirming that Wednesday. He said he “would hate to prejudge that.”
“Before I say we need to invest more or invest less or what to expect, we have to do the assessment,” he said.
Asked when he wanted to have an answer from the House Budget Committee on the funding baseline his committee will have to work with, Thompson told reporters “certainly by somewhere around June, July I would assume because we’ve got to be putting things together.”
“Realistically, the legislative process would need to conclude in September if we’re going to do this and get it to President Biden’s desk by the end of September,” he said.
While election forecasters still expect Republicans to win the majority in the House in the midterms, the projected number of seats the party is expected to win has slipped in recent weeks. Democratic voter enthusiasm has increased in part due to June’s Supreme Court action on abortion and passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
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