House Ag Chair GT Thompson and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, at an Axios press event, expressed confidence for a farm bill this year but shed no new light on its timing.
Ag Chair Thompson says he’s still waiting for farm bill help from the administration and the Congressional Budget Office. “We’re waiting on data from the Congressional Budget Office. We’ve given them a number of proposals. USDA’s been pretty good with their technical assistance, but we need more of that to come in,” according to Thompson.
While Secretary Vilsack is less concerned about timing, despite the current bill’s September 30 expiration. He says, “We’re going to get a farm bill, it’s just a question of what will the farm bill be, it’s not a question of when, it’s going to happen.”
Meantime, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), on his weekly call with farm press, sounded a more pessimistic note, arguing Democrats don’t want to give up any food stamp money and share it with producers.
“That is not going to enhance the protection that farmers need, and it’s just ridiculous that this is holding up a bipartisan bill,” according to Grassley.
Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) refused earlier to discuss the nature of the hold-up in farm bill talks with top Senate Ag Republican John Boozman (R-AR). But Grassley’s now revealed it’s come down to the long-running partisan fight about protecting enhanced pandemic SNAP benefits, versus protecting farmers struggling with input inflation.
Bottom line, Grassley says, “we’re running out of time” and a one-year extension may be needed without a farm bill by Christmas.