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House Ag Hears Challenges, Uncertainties Facing Farmers, Farm Bill

The farm bill funding squeeze is on as farmers face increasing financial and regulatory headwinds amid competing nutrition interests in the next five-year Ag bill. Those challenges were on full display at the House Ag panel Tuesday.

From WOTUS and restrictive pesticide and poultry rules to high inflation, interest rates and input costs, plus low reference prices and labor shortages, Ag is facing huge challenges. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall on USDA’s latest farm income forecast.

“A decrease in net farm income, down 15.9 percent. Adjusted for inflation, that’s an 18 percent drop. The same report indicates farm/ranch production expenses will continue to increase 18 billion dollars. That follows a record 70 billion dollar increase in 2022.”

Prompting this from Duvall on the next farm bill; “We want to increase the baseline funding commitments on farm programs. We want to maintain a unified farm bill, that includes nutrition and farm programs, together.”

Not everyone agrees nutrition, more than 80 percent of the farm bill now, will squeeze out farm programs. National Farmers Union head Rob Larew; “Too often, I sometimes hear the farm bill described as a pie chart that somehow, doesn’t move, and that, as a percentage of one program increases, that it might impact or decrease others. And that relative comparison just isn’t the way our countercyclical programs work. One can increase or decrease without any direct impact on the budget.”

That however is not the view of many Ag Republicans like Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley; “Just from the budget score and what has been done so irresponsibly, particularly in the food stamp program, there’s got to be a lot less spending.”

House GOP leaders have already directed committees to cut spending, while a House-White House face-off continues over raising the government’s borrowing limit to continue funding the government.

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