Former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson says moving the Inflation Reduction Act’s conservation funds to commodity program supports is “off the table” for Ag Committee Democrats in the House and Senate, and people trying to do just that “are dreaming.”
“There is no way in hell Democrats are ever going to agree to that,” Peterson said on a farm bill panel Friday at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s annual convention.
Several congressional Republicans have pushed the idea of using the nearly $20 billion in IRA conservation investments to bolster reference prices in the upcoming farm bill. Peterson, who chaired the House Ag Committee during the development of the 2008 farm bill and the panel’s top Democrat for the 2014 and 2018 bills, said influence of environmental organizations in the Democratic party would prevent farm policy leaders from the party from going along with reallocating the funds to bolster commodity, research or other programs in the farm bill.
“The Democrats are not going to go along with this. I can guarantee you that Biden won't go along with it, Vilsack won’t go along with it, (Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie) Stabenow won't go along with it, and I don't think (House Ag ranking member David) Scott will. So I just think it's off the table … These folks on the Republican side that have been saying that we're going to come up with money are just dreaming.”
Stabenow has pushed back against the idea of moving the funding to other areas of the farm bill, and she has also insisted that the funding remain restricted to climate-related practices.
Republicans also have targeted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as a potential funding source, but that also would likely cost the bill Democratic votes. House Ag Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., has said the committee could get $30 billion by putting restrictions on how the USDA does future updates of the Thrifty Food Plain, the cost-of-eating model that is used to determine SNAP benefits.
“At the end of the day, they can’t pass a farm bill without Democratic votes, so it’s going to make it tough for them to get it done unless they can resolve how they’re going to handle spending on nutrition programs," long-time farm policy lobbyist Mike Torrey says on this week's edition of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.
Torrey believes lawmakers need to finish work on a new bill by July. Congress is out of session after July for all but a few weeks ahead of the elections.
Josh Gackle from the American Soybean Association also talks about the farm bill on Newsmakers, and USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Farah Ahmad discusses the impact that federal funding for rural broadband is having on communities across the country.
The full discussions with Gackle, Torrey and Ahmad can be found on Agri-Pulse.com.
Quentin Slater contributed to this report.
For more news, go to Agri-Pulse.com.