Finding a Silver Lining: NASDA leader offers a glimmer of optimism amid Washington’s Farm Bill standoff
The Farm Bill faces an uncertain future right now as political turmoil unfurls in Washington. Despite lapsing at the end of September, the critical ag legislation is not even a top priority for lawmakers at the moment. However, some industry leaders are managing to find a silver lining.
Once again, the halls of the U.S. Capitol were abuzz with concern over the state of the Farm Bill, a crucial piece of legislation for America’s agricultural sector that is currently in legislative limbo. With each passing day, the prospects of its passage grows dimmer. Rep. GT Thompson (R-PA), the House Agriculture Committee Chair, also had grim news for those watching the political theater unfold in Washington, D.C.
“The Farm Bill needs a week of floor time for markup,” Thompson told Brownfield Ag News. While a week does not seem like a long time, at the moment, the House has more pressing matters at hand. A new Speaker of the House has yet to be elected after last week’s ousting of Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Then, once a Speaker is appointed, lawmakers must immediately begin assembling and passing a comprehensive government spending bill before the 45-day stopgap funding measure ends in mid-November.
In the midst of this chaos, Rep. Thompson suggested a practical solution: an extension of the current Farm Bill, followed by thorough markup and passage of a new one by year’s end. Thompson’s optimism shone through as he insisted this could be achieved through bipartisan effort, a rare glimmer of unity in the divisive world of politics.
Thompson was not alone in his hope. Some industry leaders, like Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and Former U.S. Undersecretary of Trade, are also finding a silver lining in the chaos. McKinney told Brownfield he believes that the current political turmoil could serve as a much-needed “wake-up call” for lawmakers.
It is McKinney’s sincere belief that despite the challenges, a Farm Bill will eventually pass—possibly as early as the beginning of the next year. However, he was quick to caution that substantial progress would be required in the coming months to make this a reality. Despite the uncertainty and political maneuvering, McKinney believes most lawmakers understand the importance of the Farm Bill and are making its passage a priority.