- Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee wrote to farm bill lead negotiators Monday demanding they protect nearly $20 billion in conservation and climate funding authorized under the Inflation Reduction Act.
- Lawmakers said IRA money "was intended to go towards climate smart conservation," and that it "would ultimately be a disservice to American farmers should these funds go elsewhere."
- Farm bill negotiations are at a standstill as the House remains shut down without a speaker. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman said at a roundtable event in Missouri last week that he wants a one-year extension of current legislation, according to local media reports.
Republican agriculture leaders are under pressure from hard-right members to make broad cuts to programs like nutrition and climate. At the same time, they face demands from farmers to strengthen funding for crop support programs.
The IRA provided $19.5 billion over five years to support USDA’s conservation programs. With a limited budget, that money is among the most vulnerable for potential cuts.
"At a time when farmers are facing a torrent of climate related disasters, it is more important than ever to provide the resources that enable farmers to remain profitable and resilient," according to the letter to farm bill lead negotiators, signed by all 24 Democrats of the House Agriculture Committee.
The letter comes after Politico reported House lawmakers were presented with a list of $50 billion in potential farm bill cuts to programs like nutrition and climate. Some of the cuts, which included reductions in IRA funding, would be reinvested in other bipartisan priorities, the publication reported.
The letter was signed by all 24 Democrats in the House Agriculture Committee, and was led by Reps. Nikki Budzinski of Illinois, Chellie Pingree of Maine and Jim Costa of California.
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow said last month she would not support any attempt to shift around IRA funding.
With tensions boiling over and the House shut down, lawmakers are running out of time to pass a farm bill by the end of the year, which is when major disruption to the agriculture industry is set to begin.