Key Ag Issues to Watch In Congress

Key ag issues still linger in the wake of House committee action on the president’s massive “Build Back Better” budget. House Democrats completed committee work on the 3.5 trillion-dollar tax and spending plan, though changes could still get made in the Rules Committee and on the House floor.

Ag leaders will be pushing for changes that failed in committee, including speeding up CFAP payments to livestock producers forced to destroy animals early in the pandemic. Top Ag Republican GT Thompson during the recent Ag budget markup. “Mr. Chairman, during the first ‘reconciliation,’ despite your opposition to any amendments, Republicans had an amendment that passed with Democrat support addressing timely disaster needs. It was later stripped out by your leadership.”

Georgia Republican Austin Scott renewed the effort to speed disaster aid slowed by an earlier CFAP freeze and paperwork delays. “All this amendment does, it says that within the next 60 days, the USDA is to identify the remaining eligible producers for the CFAP payments, which I believe, the vast majority of the people on the committee supported these CFAP payments for producers and send the payments within 60 days of enactment of this legislation.”

That amendment also failed, but Chairman David Scott assured Republicans that disaster aid and broadband, also nixed, could still make it into the bill. “Rural broadband, disaster aid – and let me just assure you, that is still on the table – we are working with it and in communications with both the Senate and the White House; the deal isn’t done yet.”

Nor is the politics; “It’s rumored your leadership wants to play games with rural America by adding those provisions to a continuing resolution to force Republican members to vote for legislation that may also raise the debt ceiling.”

Chair Scott didn’t respond, but Republicans oppose raising the debt limit to help Democrats finance the president’s agenda, while a handful of moderate Democrats in both chambers threaten to upend the entire effort in the coming days.