The “Farm Bill” is an omnibus package of legislation that is passed on a five-year cycle, dating back to the Great Depression (2023 will be the 18th). It provides the backbone of government subsidies and support for the US agriculture industry–everything from capital for individual farmers to procure equipment and property, to assessing and mitigating environmental impact, to SNAP and national nutrition priorities, to foreign policy. Because the Farm Bill affects nearly every aspect of public policy, a divided Congress requires a broad coalition of diverse perspectives to get it passed. It is one piece of legislation where bipartisan cooperation is a must.[i]
2018’s Farm Bill–officially titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018–will expire in 2023. It was divided into 12 Titles:[ii]
- Title I: Commodities
- Title II: Conservation
- Title III: Trade
- Title IV: Nutrition
- Title V: Credit
- Title VI: Rural Development
- Title VII: Research, Extension & Related Matters
- Title VIII: Forestry
- Title IX: Energy
- Title X: Horticulture
- Title XI: Crop Insurance
- Title XII: Miscellaneous
Gathering information for the Farm Bill is a multiyear process, and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees began holding hearings on the 2023 bill in 2022. While much of the provisions in the Farm Bill are longstanding bipartisan priorities, this year’s bill will have to contend with a number of unique issues, including a post-pandemic landscape, Russia’s war in Ukraine (which affects the global energy and grain market, as well as supply chain issues), and the reality of accelerated climate change.
With inflation surging and Republican leadership in the House intent on pulling back on government spending, the Congressional Research Service predicts robust debate over topics including “agricultural supply chain challenges, price inflation, international trade, industry consolidation, and whether, and to what extent, to continue temporary policies enacted in pandemic response laws.”[iii]
While the official CBO baseline budget numbers for the 2023 Farm Bill will be released early next year, current projections are a total combined budget for this year’s measures of $648 billion.[iv]
Key Issues In The 118th Congress
[i] Ellen Vollinger, “The Road to the 2023 Farm Bill: A Strong Nutrition Title and the Rural/Urban Alliance,” Food Research & Action Center, April 8, 2022, available at https://frac.org/blog/the-road-to-the-2023-farm-bill.
[ii] “Farm Bill Primer: What Is the Farm Bill?,” Congressional Research Service, June 28, 2022, available at https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12047.
[iii] “Preparing for the Next Farm Bill,” Congressional Research Service, March 31, 2022, available at https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R47057.
[iv] “Farm Bill Primer: What Is the Farm Bill?,” Congressional Research Service, June 28, 2022, available at https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12047.