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House GOP FY ’25 Ag Spending Bill Cuts Biden Request Almost 10 Percent

House Republicans’ FY 2025 USDA spending plan, advancing in subcommittee late Tuesday, sharply cuts the president’s request, upending key administration priorities.

The GOP spending plan would pare nearly $2.7 billion or almost 9-and-a-half percent off the president’s USDA/FDA budget request. The 26-billion-dollar bill targets administration priorities like SNAP, equity, and climate efforts, something subcommittee Chair Andy Harris took aim at for this fiscal year.

“This subcommittee will not prioritize climate change, equity, or green initiatives over mission critical services to our farmers,” according to Harris.

The GOP bill rejects new funding for USDA regional climate hubs, and the climate corps. And the fight over SNAP reforms continues inside and outside of the farm bill. Harris said, “As steward of taxpayer dollars, we have an obligation to scrutinize mandatory funding when it goes beyond what Congress has authorized and intended. The USDA has consistently sought to expand eligibility, loosen work requirements, and increase benefits.”

The GOP bill would boost both SNAP and WIC, but only to account for inflation and allow states into a SNAP voluntary pilot to restrict unhealthy food choices. And the bill rejects any new program funding, taking aim at the bureaucracy as Harris did for FY 2024.

Harris said, “You’re prioritizing bloating the bureaucracy, focusing on staffing up your Washington, D.C. headquarters rather than hiring field office staff to serve and support our nation’s producers and to deliver on USDA’s core mission.”

The FY 2025 proposal boosts funding for ag research, meat and poultry inspectors, emerging pest control, and the ReConnect broadband program. It also improves tracking of foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and directs NASS to reinstate its July cattle and county crop reports.

An American Farm Bureau official says the House GOP wants to get FY 2025 spending bills done before taking up a farm bill, adding that Senate movement on now-competing plans may also be needed to prod the House. AFB’s Director of Government Affairs Joe Gilson says Farm Bureau’s been told House GOP leadership wants FY 2025 spending bills out of the way before a farm bill.

Gilson says, “Right now, I think the House is really focused on next year’s appropriations process. And they really want to get through that, before they entertain a bill on the House floor.”

But that puts new spending bills and the one-year farm bill extension on a collision course for the same September 30th deadline. Gilson says, “We’re starting to hear some extension talk, but remember, a lot of the farm bill programs, while the expiration is September 30th, they run ‘til the end of the year. So, really, we need an extension by the end of the year.”

Gilson says an early extension’s off the table unless Ag leaders don’t see a pathway to a five-year bill this year. Meantime, AFB’s encouraged by top GOP Senator John Boozman’s new framework after the House marked up its bill. Gilson says, “We think that there are very similar provisions, and we really like a lot of the language Ranking Member Boozman uses in terms of increasing support in the farm safety net.”

With an average 15 percent hike in reference prices for all covered commodities, improvements to ARC, crop insurance support, and base acre reforms.

But Gilson acknowledges stark policy differences remain on SNAP spending updates, CCC spending discretion, and more. House Ag top Democrat David Scott in a statement after the Boozman release, warned again, a farm bill with the GOP proposal to pare SNAP “will never become law.”

Story by Matt Kaye/Berns Bureau, courtesy of NAFB News Service

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