Congress is back from their summer recess with plenty to do, including passing bills that will keep the government funded and writing and passing the 2023 Farm Bill. Over August recess, Members of Congress returned to their home states and hosted town halls. Many agriculture and advocacy groups, including Farm Aid’s partners, convened listening sessions and voiced their concerns and hopes for the future Farm Bill.
The first thing that the House will have to do this week, now that they are back in Washington, is pass a “continuing resolution” to keep the government from shutting down on September 30. Once they do (or if they do, as this will be a tough job, given how divided the chamber is), the House will still have to pass their appropriations, or budget, bill. This bill will almost certainly be very different from the Senate’s, which has already been passed in that chamber.
Though the deadline for passing a new Farm Bill is also September 30, Congress will prioritize preventing a government shutdown and will very likely not release a draft of the Farm Bill’s text before that happens. This means that it’s virtually guaranteed that it will miss the deadline of September 30, when the current Farm Bill expires. Whether they can pass a Farm Bill before its secondary December 31 deadline is also an uncertainty.
Even with the drama of budget talks unfolding, the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill are currently being written by their respective agricultural committees. Though marker bills continue to be introduced, the initial phase of Farm Bill drafting is coming to a close. Once they finish writing their separate versions of the bill, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will debate, amend and vote on their drafts. Then, these drafts will be brought to each full chamber to be debated and amended.
In the meantime, Farm Aid is headed to Noblesville, Indiana, next week and we’ll be highlighting the advocacy work of our partners and making the voices of family farmers heard during this crucial time in the Farm Bill process. Stay tuned!