Industry analyst discusses prospects & challenges right now in ag policy — Farm Bill, Prop 12 & trade shifts

Pro Farmer and Farm Journal analyst Jim Wiesemeyer recently engaged in a discussion with the Western Ag Network, sharing his perspectives on the likelihood of crucial farm legislation making strides in the coming year, or potentially succumbing to the complexities of election year politics.

Jim Wiesemeyer, a seasoned analyst with a career spanning back to 1978, expressed cautious optimism regarding the development of a new Farm Bill by July of 2024.

Wiesemeyer attributed this possibility to the outgoing Senate Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenau, a Democrat from Michigan, who sees it as a part of her legacy. However, he highlighted two critical issues that need resolution: the necessity for additional funding—approximately $20 billion—to enhance the Title One safety net; and address specific challenges related to Title One reference prices and base acre updates.

Delving into regional dynamics, Wiesemeyer discussed how California’s political landscape introduces volatility into the U.S. livestock industry. Proposition 12 in California dictates the raising of hogs, impacting multiple states and significantly raising pork prices within California due to stringent cage requirements. He anticipates reduced pork cuts entering California, leading to consequences for the state. Also noting the ripple effect, with some states considering emulating California’s approach, contributing to the ongoing challenges in the livestock sector.

On the trade front, Wiesemeyer highlighted a shift in the approach to trade policies under the Biden Administration. He observed a move toward protectionism, a departure from the multilateral trade agreements that benefited U.S. agriculture in previous years. This shift poses challenges for the agricultural sector, which has traditionally thrived on trade agreements.