The ongoing congressional squabbling over federal spending levels “means that the farm bill debate is going to be pushed into the meat of a general election year,” when compromise is difficult to achieve, said Purdue associate professor Roman Keeney.
The debate over government funding might touch farm bill programs this spring, as it did in SNAP revisions written into the debt limit agreement of 2023, said Keeney in a quarterly Purdue publication.
Without an accord, “we could almost certainly reach October 2024 with no replacement farm bill and face the same questions we did throughout 2023,” wrote Keeney. Agricultural leaders in Congress deadlocked over the farm bill last year, forcing lawmakers to extend the life of the 2018 farm law for one year, to Sept. 30. Climate funding, higher crop subsidy rates, and SNAP spending were the major disputes.
In an optimistic scenario, lawmakers would seize the farm bill as a last chance to advance bipartisan legislation before the general election. Alternately, “the year could feature continued policy brinksmanship with the only agreements being made when consequences of delay are most severe,” wrote Keeney.
“The delay in passing federal spending bills for 2024 means that the farm bill debate is going to be pushed into the meat of a general election year where debates in Congress serve proxy for broader agenda items (e.g. immigration or international aid) making compromises more difficult to achieve.”
In an accompanying article, Russell Hilberry said there was little discussion of agricultural trade policy in the early months of the presidential campaign. President Biden, while trying to restore international ties, “seems indifferent to the market access goals of U.S. agriculture” and former president Donald Trump, who started a trade war that cut into farm exports, has proposed a 10 percent tariff on virtually all imported goods.
“Perhaps the more relevant question is this: Why have the interest groups and politicians who represent rural Midwestern voters been so far so unsuccessful in raising the salience of trade policy in the Republican presidential primary campaign?” wrote Hillberry. The article was written before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
Trump signed the 2018 farm bill on Dec. 20, 2018, three months after expiration of the 2014 law. The 2002 farm law was the last farm bill to be enacted on time.