What the 2023 Farm Bill Could Mean for Conservation

The Supreme Court is set to take another look at an old Waters of the US case that could determine how the EPA sets its new rule.

Indiana Congressman Jim Baird says how justices interpret a lower court’s ruling about defining “wetlands” will be critical for agriculture.

“The farmers and ranchers, we’ve had enough trouble going through the pandemic supply chain shortages. Now we’ve got rising input costs. So how do you deal with all of that when you got this sort of thing? So, that’s a real key issue for me. I think that we need to make sure the EPA is making decisions that are based on science and that keep the farmers and ranchers well-being in mind whenever they make these decisions.”

Congressman Baird serves as ranking member on the biotechnology and research subcommittee and says policy should prioritize science and innovation.

“We’ve modified some feed ingredients that we can feed the cattle, for example, that will cut in methane released by 46%. And those are considered, in my opinion, feed ingredients. But under the current situation, they have to go through the food and drug administration. So, I think that needs to move from FDA over to USDA.”

Looking ahead to the 2023 Farm Bill, he says it’s time to start having conversations with stakeholders.

“We need to be identifying now, what is working, what isn’t working, and then develop the solutions. For that and then we’ll be prepared to really put together a good farm bill program because that is so important, not only to the local rural communities, but how we administer that and what happens has an impact on our whole country.”

Congressman Baird says the Farm Bill should help producers be the front-runners in conservation, but he expects carbon capture could be more of an issue.

“I’m not excited about using the CCC current funds and funding levels to move over to just carbon capture or something like that. If we need to make changes there, let’s do it. But the conservation reserve programs and the risk management programs are extremely important as we get involved in in the large dollars involved in agriculture today. When you talk about the cost of a combine and equipment, you talk about the cost of inputs, all of them.”

Speaking to the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the USDA would not use the commodity credit corporation to create a carbon bank, but they are using the ccc to launch conservation pilot programs to develop technical assistance for producers.

Congressman Baird also serves on the House China Task Force and says the United States should be cautious of foreign ownership in critical industries, and should consider how that impacts the resilience of the food supply chain.

For the full interview, click HERE.


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