Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024 advances from House committee 

Panoramic farmland with white barn. (Courtesy photo.)

On May 23, House Agriculture Committee members held the full markup of H.R. 8467, The Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024. It later advanced from the committee on May 24 with bipartisan approval. 

Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania opened the markup session and told those in attendance that when he became chairman, he was serious about upholding the mandate to protect the food supply and enhance the impact of the nation’s agricultural value chain. He’s confident this farm bill helps do that. 

“Across each title of this bill are new and better tools and resources for our farmers and rural communities,” he said. “From production and processing to delivery and consumption, this bill strengthens the rural economy across every region, state and district.” 

 While not without contention from “voices from the outside,” Thompson said, “I believe it is important to focus on the substance of the legislation before us today.”  

Thompson said the farm safety net had lost its ability to protect farmers and ranchers.  

“American farmers face natural disasters, take huge personal risk and are at the whims of regulatory overreach,” he said. “It is a privilege to deliver a farm bill that strengthens the risk mitigation measures available to producers, providing certainty in a time of volatility.” 

Thompson said he and the other committee members have spent a lot of time with the Congressional Budget Office to correct some assumptions in a transparent, judicious manner. 

Reinvestment of Inflation Reduction Act conservation dollars will allow substantial investment in voluntary, locally led and incentive-based conservation programs that are beneficial, flexible and popular, he said. 

“As many of you know, the conservation portion of the IRA was not considered by this committee in 2021,” he said. “Instead, $20 billion appeared once the bill moved to the Rules Committee,” he said. “So today, the bill before us uses those dollars for conservation programming in Title II, something so important to this committee.” 

The Thrifty Food plan was also a point of contention, and for more than 40 years, Thompson said the plan was cost neutral before being inflated with $256 billion in additions in past years. He also said the TFP does not cater to any one side. 

“It is a balanced approach, forward-looking, underscored by the need for Congress to reassert its authority,” he said. “If the benefit must be increased beyond inflation, Congress must consider and execute.” 

It’s important to recognize as cost of living goes up, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will continue to rise and reflect the influence of inflation.  

Thompson said in further efforts to disrupt the farm bill process, there has been talk about moving money within the bill to some programs, called titles, and away from others. 

“I assume it needs reminding of contemporary farm bills where farmers were stripped of billions in exchange for additional funds in nutrition, or where nutrition saw a 1% decrease in the deficit reduction exercise of 2014, yet farmers had to face an astonishing 25% cut,” he said. “So, I have no shame transitioning available resources to the nearly unanimous, bipartisan priorities shared by each of you and incorporated in this bill, including trade promotion, research and various specialty crop programs.” 

According to Thompson, each of the titles within the farm bill are “supremely important” to rural communities. 

“Providing access to credit, streamlining policies to provide connectivity to the many, improving precision agriculture, encouraging active forest management and enhancing forest health, creating access to energy system and efficiency updates, protecting plant health and specialty crop competitiveness and protecting the livestock and poultry industry from catastrophic disease and the inside-the-beltway animal welfare activists are each worthy topics and policies that demand strong consideration as this markup unfolds,” he said. 

Thompson said he believes the legislation would help restore a robust rural economy, invest in America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters and bolster every facet of American agriculture. 

“And having seen the widespread support from stakeholders across this country, I believe we have achieved that goal,” he said.  

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During the markup session, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma provided his thoughts on the farm bill and noted that he has served on the committee since 1994. 

“During that time, I’ve authored one farm bill and parts of four others. I’ve sent through seven different farm bill markups,” he said. “I’ve seen details and veto overrides, partisanship, bipartisanship, regional agreement and regional infighting. There have been sweet victories and very painful losses, but we always get there in the end.” 

Lucas said that advancing the bill from committee was the first step in a long journey that ends with the final bill and the president’s signature.  

“As we prepare to embark on this journey, I’d like to applaud the chairman for putting forth a good bill, a bill that builds on the successes of previous farm bills,” he said. “This legislation includes historic investments in the farm safety net, expands access to locally led incentive-based conservation programs, supports agricultural research and so much more.” 

Lucas said it’s important to acknowledge the importance of the roles ranking member David Scott from Georgia and the political minority play in the process.  

“Just as it is the majority’s responsibility to govern, it is the responsibility of the minority party to represent the conscience of the body,” Lucas said. “Now ultimately, ultimately, we must work with each other to advance a comprehensive committee product.” 

The real struggle is not in the markup or the committee work, but on the floor of the U.S. House and in the conference committee where differences are sorted out with the Senate. 

“I look forward to what we can accomplish here today to ensure that farmers and ranchers across the country have the tools they need to raise the food and the fiber and the fuel for our fellow Americans and that the entire world depend on,” Lucas said. 

Following the markup session, the farm bill went to committee and was passed. Thompson said in a statement that he commended a handful of representatives on their willingness to see through the rhetoric and help advance the bill.  

“The House Committee on Agriculture has proven there is a path to a bipartisan compromise that addresses the needs of rural America, enhances the farm safety net and does right by our neighbors in need,” Thompson said. “A farm bill is too important to let slip any further, including into next year. Farm and ranch families cannot wait.” 

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].