Congress is in the process of developing and approving a new five-year farm bill, as the current bill ends on Oct. 1. As I look into this sweeping legislative process, it gets a bit overwhelming with the amount of money it requires and all of the programs it involves, including programs not related to farming or food.
The process of writing a new farm bill takes months, sometimes even longer. The 2023 Farm Bill is the 20th farm bill Congress has written since 1933, but I doubt the original writers would recognize what is currently being written.
There is hope Congress will pass a new farm bill by the end of the year so it won’t get tangled up with the 2024 election year. I hope they do since some people are worried if it doesn’t get passed this year, it may be 2025 before the bill is signed.
One cannot overstate the importance of the farm bill to rural America and agriculture – the original intent of the first farm bill was to protect food and agriculture. Food security is a large topic these days, as we saw during the pandemic. Crop insurance and farm programs are vital to rural America and agriculture.
Years ago, urban legislators looked over the farm bill and figured if they had some programs for the urban population, they would get more votes. Well, low and behold, the urban population and food stamps is 80 percent of the current $1.5 trillion farm bill.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will cost around $1.1 trillion in the new bill. Out of this food stamp program, 10 percent of funding will go to those not qualified to receive food stamps.That is a lot of money! If America has a food shortage, what good will food stamps be for qualified people.
On June 14, I had the privilege of attending a Wyoming Farm Bill Priorities Roundtable in Casper hosted by Wyoming Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis with Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Boozman has raised cattle and farmed, so he knows the ag business and is one of the primary authors of the 2023 Farm Bill. After listening to him, I soon realized his values and Wyoming’s mirrored each other. I commend Barrasso and Lummis for bringing Boozman to Wyoming to get to know to our ag industry.
Some 30 attendees representing Wyoming’s agriculture industry spoke on the state’s needs and impacts of the 2023 Farm Bill, and we heard the inside story on the upcoming farm bill.
The tone of the roundtable was positive and all were respectful of each other’s comments. I came away from the event more respectful of our government getting something done.
We’re really fortunate to have the Congressional members we do from Wyoming and other members like Boozman in Congress. They care about Wyoming’s rural communities and our agriculture industries.
We are all in this together to make sure we have food security to feed America. It takes good people to make it work.
Dennis Sun is the publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper available online and in print. To subscribe, visit wylr.net