With Congress heading into a showdown over the federal debt ceiling, farm groups are staking their claim for funding for the next farm bill.
In a letter to the House and Senate Budget committees, 400 groups appealed for “sufficient resources” to fund the bill, including a “more meaningful, predictable farm safety net.” The letter doesn’t explicitly ask for a specific increase in funding or say where the farm bill funding should come from.
Why it matters: House Republicans are trying to write a budget resolution that would include deep cuts in federal spending. But they have an internal battle ahead over the details of the blueprint.
This week, a group of House Republicans proposed to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by expanding work requirements. Last week, the House Freedom Caucus called for cutting non-defense discretionary spending back to fiscal 2022 levels and capping future increases at 1% a year. (A cap on discretionary spending would not directly affect most farm bill programs.)
Take note: The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday that any increase in funding for commodity programs would have to be offset somewhere else. Grassley is going to push again this year for tightening commodity program payment limits, which could free up some money.
Conservation farm bill priorities outlined by AGree
The AGree initiative is out with a set of farm bill recommendations intended to promote widespread adoption of conservation practices on working lands.
The recommendations include establishing a secure data service to collect, link and analyze data on conservation practices. AGree also calls for expanding access to technical assistance for implementing climate-smart agriculture practices. AGree also wants to use crop insurance to drive broader adoption of conservation practices.
“The farm bill is a major opportunity to advance policies that provide better information to farmers through innovative research and data, expand risk management tools, and build financial support for practices that build soil health and reduce farm risk,” says Todd Barker, CEO of the Meridian Institute, which houses AGree.

Renewal of Black Sea Grain Initiative may be a nail-biter
There’s less than a week to go before the Black Sea Grain Initiative is due to expire, bringing a halt to grain exports out of Odesa, and Moscow is demanding a major change to the deal. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin says the country is only willing to agree to extend the deal for 60 days – half the 120 days allowed for in the original agreement. It’s unclear if Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations will agree to that.
The UN has been clear that it wants the deal renewed for 120 days.
Why it matters: An extension of just 60 days would severely hamper the effectiveness of Ukraine’s ability to export, said Kip Tom, CEO of Tom Farms and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.
“Sixty days really doesn’t offer much in terms of capacity through-put,” he told Agri-Pulse. “By the time a truck leaves the farm, goes to the terminal then loaded on the ship and makes it to Turkey the best assumption is 45 days. So you might have a couple of weeks of shipments. Doesn’t do much for the farmers who need cash to farm in 2023.”
Mexico voices concerns on ‘Product of USA’ label
Mexico’s ag ministry is raising concerns about USDA’s proposal to limit a voluntary “Product of the USA” meat label to animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States. Mexico is the second largest supplier of beef and beef products to the U.S., representing 24% of total U.S. imports.

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The ministry says the “proposal, even when it is a voluntary claim, could have implications for discriminating against Mexican exports of live animals and meat products, and would reopen unfortunate incentives for setback, inconsistency and opposition to the obligations of the World Trade Organization to comply with the ruling in the case of country-of-origin-labeling in meat products, of which Mexico reserves its rights.”
Congress repealed the mandatory labeling law after the WTO approved $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs for Canada and Mexico.
Limits proposed for PFAS in drinking water
EPA is proposing limits for six PFAS chemicals in drinking water, which could force water systems throughout the country to spend billions on improvements.
It’s the first time EPA has proposed limits on any of the so-called forever chemicals. The proposal would not impose limits on private wells. PFAS have been used to make industry and consumer products for decades, but exposure to them has been linked to a variety of severe health problems, including cancer.
More than 2,100 agricultural operations in 37 states were notified by the Pentagon in 2021 that they were within a mile “down gradient” from high levels of PFAS contamination from military bases.
Groups oppose Booker pesticide bill
More than 400 groups have written members of Congress opposing a Senate bill that would ban neonicotinoids and paraquat and impose more stringent requirements on approval of pesticides.
CropLife America, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, agribusiness associations, golf course superintendents and many other groups signed on to the letter.
The bill was introduced by Senate Ag Committee member Cory Booker, D-N.J. Three other senators are co-sponsoring the measure – Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
He said it. “This MOU is like a cowboy advertising a sterile bull for sale. The bull may look good but can’t finish the job.” -  Montana Farmers Union President Walter Schweitzer in a press release commenting on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s latest “right to repair” agreements with equipment manufacturers.
AFBF Vice President of Public Policy Sam Kieffer has called the MOUs “a starting point, certainly not an endpoint.”
Questions, comments, tips? Email philip@agri-pulse.com.