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White House Farm Bill Meeting Raises Questions

Top House and Senate Ag leaders met with President Biden and Secretary Vilsack at the White House on the future of the farm bill, in a rare session that raises big questions about prospects for the bill this year.

The meeting with the president is almost unheard of for farm bills, was held with little public fanfare, and yielded a mere press release citing only the “importance of passing a bipartisan farm bill this year.” But the fact such a rare meeting even occurred raises big questions on the farm bill’s fate amid the debt limit stand-off and a charged partisan fight over expanding SNAP work requirements.

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow on the debt-ceiling issue at a recent farm bill hearing; “I have serious concerns about the potential for default that’s hanging over our heads. I was here in 2011, first chairing the Agriculture Committee, when there were calls to cut spending in exchange for avoiding default, and ultimately, that ended up in across-the-board cuts to a variety of programs, including ARC and PLC, which continues today and will continue for another eight years.”

And Rules Committee top Democrat Jim McGovern on SNAP at a recent farm bill trade-title hearing; “We all want a farm bill, and we all want to make sure that nobody in this country goes hungry. And any farm bill that hurts vulnerable people, I think we all should understand, is going nowhere.”

The Ag committees have yet to start writing a new farm bill, lacking top-line numbers amid the debt limit/budget-standoff and the SNAP fight tied to that. The current farm bill runs out September 30th.

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