Farm groups on Thursday welcomed congressional approval of a continuing resolution that includes a one-year extension of the 2018 farm bill, ensuring that existing commodity programs will operate normally for 2024 crops.
The Senate cleared the CR 87-11 late Wednesday night, sending the measure to President Joe Biden for his signature. The CR will avert a government shutdown this weekend by keeping the government funded into the new year as lawmakers continue working on fiscal 2024 appropriations bills. The House approved the measure 336-95 on Tuesday.
Harold Wolfe, a Minnesota farmer who is president of the National Corn Growers Association, said the extension gives producers “much needed certainty around the commodity title and other important USDA programs. But we continue to advocate for a full reauthorization of the farm bill as soon as possible.”
In addition to extending commodity programs for the 2024 crop year, the CR also includes funding for some farm bill programs that expired Sept. 30 and were left without funding, including $15 million for feral swine eradication and $37 million for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
Other programs getting funding include USDA’s Urban Agriculture program, the Organic Production and Market Data Initiative, Organic Integrity Database, and National Organic Certification Cost-Share.
To cover the cost of the extension, the bill would rescind $177.4 million from the unobligated balance in USDA's Section 9003 biorefinery assistance program. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said this week that she would seek to restore that funding.
The extension effectively give lawmakers until the end of 2024 to pass a new farm bill or another extension. But farm groups joined Wolfe in urging lawmakers to try to pass a new farm bill quickly next year.
“The current farm bill was written before the pandemic, before inflation spiked, and before global unrest sent shock waves through the food system,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement.
“We need programs that reflect today’s realities. So much work has been done by the agriculture committees in both the House and Senate over the past 18 months to prepare to craft a smart and effective farm bill. Congress must keep that momentum going.
“While an extension is necessary, they're running out of time to write a new bill. We need a new farm bill in early 2024.”
Mike Lavender, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, said programs in the 2018 farm bill need to be “updated.”
“The intervening years have been among the most tumultuous in our nation’s history - as an increasingly disruptive and changing climate, the COVID-19 pandemic and societal impacts, and a long-overdue racial justice reckoning conspired to thoroughly unveil the fragility of our current food system,” Lavender said.
“Farmers, ranchers, and food system stakeholders deserve updated federal policy that levels the playing field, invests in a climate resilient future, and advances racial equity. We implore Congress to pass a strong, bipartisan farm bill in early 2024.”
Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, said his group was “encouraged by the strong bipartisan support” for the extension. “Now we urge Congress to channel that success toward getting a new farm bill done in a timely fashion.”
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