MTA Insights: Kickoff to the Farm Bill


Getting Prepared: 2023 Farm Bill

April 2022

It’s that time again – farm bill time! At Michael Torrey Associates we are busy preparing as Congress starts the process with hearings in DC and out in the “field.”

While there are a number of standard fault lines in any farm bill negotiation – House vs. Senate, Republicans vs. Democrats, Nutrition vs. Farm-focused Programs – each farm bill also has its own personality. That often comes from the personalities of the House and Senate Ag Committees. But let’s not forget the role that current events, at home and across the globe, play when the bill is written. For more than 30 years, our team members have been involved in the farm bill process and understand what can make or break a farm bill. Here are a couple of potential factors to watch for that could be unique to this farm bill, from a couple of MTA’s farm bill veterans.

Tara Smith, Executive Vice President
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The budget environment will be a key factor in determining the realities of this farm bill. Basically, the budget is where the rubber meets the road. There can be a lot of great policy ideas, but the budget constraints can be where good policy ideas go to die. Recognizing that we are coming off of a handful of years where spending has been elevated across the board, this election could bring with it a shift towards “fiscal conservatism” in at least one of the Chambers – so what will that mean for the farm bill?

We are also seeing climate taking a real lead in discussions. While a change in gavels may impact the degrees to which climate smart agriculture is embraced in this farm bill, we have seen stakeholders across the board moving forward on climate-focused programs, so in many regards, a middle ground has already been forged in this space. These stakeholders will be looking for real policy solutions no matter who is in charge.

Lastly, ad hoc disaster payments have grown over the last five years after almost a decade of no or limited assistance. Will we see a strategic approach to filling the gaps identified in the safety net or continuation of the status quo?

James Glueck, Vice President
James GlueckBio Page

The agricultural economy offers unique challenges at the onset of this farm bill conversation. High commodity prices, the cost of production, and the global stocks situation are a few of the factors that have added uncertainty to the operating environment. These factors will have implications for the baseline. Lingering effects of the pandemic, as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, create further uncertainty throughout the value chain. Changes to existing authorities may be warranted given the recent shocks and challenges to the agriculture marketplace.

The state of food security will likely play a critical role in this next farm bill. It’s an issue that has been front in center in international fora, such as WTO, FAO, G7 and WFP. Without question, it’s expected to receive additional attention in domestic discussions over the coming months, especially in light of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

While not unique to this farm bill, it’s always important to be cognizant of the legislative process and timelines. With the start of a new Congress next January — and the potential for changes in leadership — there will be less than a year for the committees to engage with stakeholders, solicit input from new members, draft legislative text, and move bills, as well as a conference report, before the 2018 farm bill expires.

MTA On the Road

Members of Team Torrey will be attending the following events in the coming months:

WSJ Global Food Forum
Chicago, IL (June 27 & 28)

Agri-Pulse West Food & Policy Summit
Sacramento, CA (July 11)

Let us know if you will also be there!

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