By Clint Thompson
The waiting game for specialty crop producers eager for new Farm Bill legislation is going to be a longer wait than expected.
Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as Speaker of the House a couple of weeks ago means legislators must find his replacement before any progress on a new Farm Bill can take place, says Adam Rabinowitz, Alabama Extension economist.
“Until we get a Speaker, there’s not going to be any activity on a Farm Bill. There’s still a lot of things that need to be worked out in committee. For that matter, there’s a fiscal budget that needs to be addressed before the next potential shutdown date in November,” Rabinowitz said. “I think the speaker debate will be resolved much sooner just because we need to govern. They’ll figure something out at some point soon so we can move forward on legislation and especially the appropriations bill so we can get a budget in place. Essentially those two things are going to have to happen before we venture down into a Farm Bill.
“We need a Speaker, and we need a budget for the fiscal year that’s already started. Then we’ll get into a Farm Bill, and I think with some of the needs that are there to address within the Farm Bill, there has to be a willingness to have discussions across the aisle. They have to be able to address some of the issues that are going to revolve around making hard decisions about where to put some of the funding and where there might be opportunities if there are for new funding.”
Potential for Extension
Rabinowitz expects an extension of the current Farm Bill to be in place by the end of the December. He said without an extension, certain policies would revert back to the 1940s, which cannot happen. But he doesn’t expect any movement to happen before then, however.
“There’s not a lot of pressing issues with respect to the Farm Bill that it needs to be extended before then. I think we see that extension happen by the end of the year, and the debate in terms of the new Farm Bill takes place sometime in 2024,” Rabinowitz said.