Every five years we face expiration of the current Farm Bill and development of a new one. The current farm bill
was enacted into law in December 2018 and therefore expires in 2023. Development of a new bill has
wide ranging impacts: from trade program funds supporting US Wheat activities on market expansion to crop insurance support to conservation programs. It is a key safety net for producers, which becomes extremely apparent in years like 2021.
Since the first Farm Bill was passed in 1933 with commodities programs to allow producers to stay afloat through challenging years, it has been expanded to the current 2018 Farm Bill which has twelve separate titles. As the process for Farm Bill reauthorization negotiations begins, the League has several engagements steps along the way to ensure the Bill continues to retain key tools for Oregon wheat producers and improve upon current programs for ag.
Step 1: League Resolutions (Policies and Priorities). Our top priority of protecting the federal crop insurance program is followed closely by preserving the safety net provided by the commodity title of the Farm Bill. Within that title we will be seeking to increase the statutory reference price for wheat, reflective of the increased cost of production. We are requesting continued investment in USDA Foreign Market Development programs and Market Access Programs to expand our trade relationships in emerging markets. This bill will surely have a strong focus on ‘climate smart ag’ in a variety of forms. As we look at the conservation title, we seek improvements that work for the Pacific NW, understanding the geographic and preferential differences in farming practices unique to our environments.
Step 2: Presenting Oregon Wheat priorities to the legislative delegation. While in Washington DC for the annual January Hill visits, the League meets with Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senators. We articulate our membership priorities, with a succinct one-page outline describing the impact of Farm Bill programs, necessity for retaining tools and the requested asks for 2023.
Step 3: Grassroots advocacy.
The process typically begins with public outreach including hearings/listening sessions where members of Congress take input from the public on what is important for the new bill. Following initial outreach, the Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry develop and vote on separate bills which often have substantial differences. Each committee bill then goes to its respective full House of Representatives or Senate where it is debated, amended, and voted on. After both the full House and Senate have passed their own bills, the bills move over to a conference committee which combines them into one compromise package. This compromise bill is then sent back to the House and Senate floors to be debated and passed. Once the House and Senate approve a final farm bill, the bill goes to the President, who can veto, sending it back to Congress, or sign it into law.
As we move forward through the year, watch for opportunities in listening sessions. Reach out to your legislators to talk about your experiences and utilize the League resources/ one-pagers to amplify our collective asks for the next Farm Bill.