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Debt Crisis Raises Risks for Farm Bill

The push to get a farm bill across the finish line this year could run headlong into the partisan fight over budget cuts versus raising the government’s borrowing limit.

As new House Ag Chair, Republican GT Thompson sees it; “We’ve got a deadline when this current farm bill expires, and that’s September 30, 2023.”

But Thompson will likely be seeking more money for a farm bill at the same time his party demands new spending cuts from the White House. “Our farm families need immediate action to address skyrocketing input costs, supply chain uncertainties and other challenges…we need this administration to stop its irresponsible regulatory action, and the majority to stop fueling the fire with out-of-control spending packages and haphazard policy.”

Referring to trillions in Covid spending, but that also included billions for Ag conservation and rural broadband. Still, the GOP wants cuts in return for raising the debt limit, a strategy the White House so far, rejects.

Freshman Republican Ag member John Duarte acknowledges the dilemma; “We’re going to have a good farm bill, even though, we know the realities are, America’s got to balance its books—we have to find some fiscal discipline.”

But doing so is another matter. Seventy percent of the federal budget is mandatory spending like Social Security and Medicare, close to 80 percent of the farm bill is, but most of that for food stamps.

Cutting nutrition is a non-starter for urban lawmakers, cutting farm safety nets like commodity, conservation and crop insurance programs is the same for rural lawmakers. Passing a farm bill takes votes from both.

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