House Unveils $1.5 Trillion Farm Bill Draft

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee Friday released the draft bill text of the long-awaited $1.5 trillion farm bill, which is likely to face opposition in the Senate from Democrats due to disagreements over federal anti-hunger programs and climate change requirements.

The bill, chaired by GOP Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, aims to set agricultural, nutrition, commodity, and conservation policies for the next five years. It includes numerous bipartisan policies shaped by extensive stakeholder feedback and is structured across 12 titles​.

Key components of the bill include promoting rural farming, expanding global markets for American agricultural products, implementing new reporting requirements for foreign land purchases, increasing funding for specialty crops, and broadening disaster assistance eligibility​.

Thompson emphasized that the bill addresses the needs of the agricultural community and cautioned against potential Senate objections that might disrupt the House’s legislative process​.

However, the bill has faced significant criticism from Democrats. Rep. David Scott, the committee’s top Democrat, condemned the draft for allegedly reducing food aid for hungry children, limiting climate-smart conservation funding, and restricting USDA crisis assistance for farmers. Scott warned that the bill, in its current form, would struggle to pass the House and called for a bipartisan approach necessary for Senate approval, given the Democratic majority there​.

On the Senate side, Democratic leaders, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, have proposed their own farm bill, which emphasizes increasing eligibility for nutrition programs like SNAP. Stabenow and Scott urged for a bipartisan bill that maintains support for food assistance and addresses climate impacts on farming.

Contentious points in the House bill include the removal of climate-smart policies from $13 billion in conservation projects funded by the Inflation Reduction Act and potential cuts to SNAP benefits through changes to the Thrifty Food Plan formula. These changes could reduce SNAP funding by approximately $30 billion over the next decade, impacting over 41 million SNAP beneficiaries​. Additionally, environmental groups have raised concerns about the bill’s provisions on animal welfare and climate-smart agriculture, urging Congress to prioritize consumers, farmers, and environmental sustainability over political and corporate interests.

The farm bill must navigate these political challenges to replace the current extension, which expires on September 30​.

On Thursday, the House Committee on Agriculture will consider amendments to the 942-page proposed Farm Bill. It is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The two committees must reconcile their bills before sending the legislation to the full chambers for a vote. If passed, President Joe Biden would need to sign it into law.