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Conservation, climate policy and changing face of ag committees likely to shape farm bill in 2023

The House Ag Committee, meanwhile, has 27 new members and the Senate has seven new members.

Soybeans
The 2023 Farm Bill will be focused on issues including conservation and climate policy
Daniel Acker / Bloomberg
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MINOT, N.D. — Crop insurance, conservation and trade are among the top issues for the 2023 Farm Bill, said James Callan U.S. Durum Growers Association federal lobbyist.

There generally is support for federal crop insurance, Callan said during a farm bill update session at the Crop Outlook and International Durum Forum held Nov. 2-3 in Minot. However, there is a risk of funding cuts to the administrative and operating expenses the farm bill pays for farmers to crop insurance companies, as well as to the premium subsidy and revenue programs, he noted.

Another issue that will be challenging is to ensure that climate policy issues don’t crowd out private sector incentives, Callan said. While there should be a focus on incentives, they should not punish farmers and should reflect the growing conditions of the states where the crops are produced, he said.

Climate policies permeate all of USDA, and it’s concerning that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to a hazard-based approach, similar to what the European Union uses, Callan said.

In hazard-based approaches, the presence of a potentially harmful agent at a detectable level in food is used as the basis for legislation or risk management, while a risk-based approach allows consideration of exposure to determine whether there may be an unacceptable health risk, according to the ILSI Europe website.

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The hazard-based approach is a path that the United States shouldn’t go down, Callan said.

Another challenge that will affect the way the 2023 Farm Bill is drafted is the changing political makeup of the U.S. House and Senate, he said. There are more than 150 new members of the U.S. House and more than 15 new members of the U.S. Senate since the 2018 Farm Bill was drafted, he said.

The House Ag Committee, meanwhile, has 27 new members and the Senate has seven new members.

The budget baseline for the farm bill will, in part, be determined by the political environment, Callan said. Other factors will be the state of the farm economy and funding availability.

As drafting the farm bill approaches, Callan said it is important that he and U.S. Durum Growers Association leadership and members continue to talk with members of the North Dakota congressional delegation and other Congressional members who have a stake in agriculture.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, is the most experienced of the four Senate Ag and House Ag Committee leaders. Her priorities include conservation, urban agriculture and nutrition programs. House chair Rep. David Scott, D-Georgia, is a longtime committee member who is concerned about climate, racial equity and southern commodities, Callan said.

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREPOLICY
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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