Farm Bill Questions: What will lawmakers do to pass the legislation?

Will Santa Claus leave the legislation under the tree this year? Or will lawmakers have to splinter off SNAP in order to push the Farm Bill through by the deadline? Top ag lawmakers are split.

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A senior member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee says the upcoming Farm Bill should be split into two. Another ag leader on the other side of the aisle believes the bill will pass as-is — just a few months after the original deadline.

The uncertainty among the nation’s top agricultural leaders is leaving both farmers and political analysts scratching their head, wondering: How long it will take lawmakers to pass the 2023 Farm Bill? And what will it look like on the other side?

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) called the Farm Bill “far-ranging,” and says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be removed from the 2023 Farm Bill and treated as a separate issue from everything else. He said we cannot have an honest discussion about SNAP benefits or production agriculture as long as the two are tied together.

“It becomes an emotional argument, " Rep. Scott said, speaking Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Miramar Beach, Florida. “SNAP benefits are permanent law. They are going to continue if the farm bill doesn’t.”

Scott’s proposition to split SNAP from the rest of the Farm Bill comes a decade after the House briefly put the idea into play. However, not all stakeholders agree with the idea, with many fearing crop insurance could be jeopardized without strong bipartisan support.

Another member of the House Ag Committee, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) is optimistic the legislation will pass — but around Christmastime rather than by the September 30 deadline — but says it could be held up by other budget priorities. This can happen, she says, if lawmakers can agree to treat it as a nonpartisan piece of legislation.

“We’ve seen in the last couple of weeks really nonpolitical bills or sort of bipartisan traditional bills — like the Pentagon budget, like the re-authorization for our flight infrastructure — become political footballs,” Rep. Slotkin said, speaking at a agribusiness stakeholders roundtable discussion in Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

Rep. Slotkin is focused on securing a safety net for producers as well as keeping farmland in production during generational transitions.

“As someone who’s on the Ag Committee and who believes that we should be able to come together when it comes to feeding our country—we want to be able to have our processing committee do our good work and then not have it get filled up with all these culture-war amendments,” Rep. Slotkin continued. “So that was what we were hoping to see from [House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy.”

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