Funding for food assistance and climate programs must be included in the upcoming farm bill if negotiators hope to win over Democrats' support in the House, agriculture leaders said in a memo to fellow lawmakers on Wednesday.
Spearheaded by House Agriculture Ranking Member David Scott, the memo advises lawmakers on major party priorities for the farm bill. Among other things, it says House Democrats will "oppose any attempt" to reduce conservation funding or benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Budgetary constraints and partisan infighting have delayed progress on the food industry's largest spending package, which governs farm, nutrition and conservation programs. Amid the tight funding environment, Republicans have looked to shift additional conservation money allocated under the Inflation Reduction Act to other farm priorities.
Scott, in a statement, said the memo "presents an honest assessment of where House Democrats are on farm bill policy and offers our Republican colleagues an unambiguous and straightforward path to passing a strong, effective, and bipartisan farm bill."
Beyond calls to protect funding for conservation and food assistance, Democrats say a strong farm bill should include provisions that lower production costs for farmers, advance equity and support agriculture's growing role in the renewable energy sector.
"Where we stand is very clear," Rep. Shontel Brown, ranking member of the general farm commodities, risk management, and credit subcommittee, said in Wednesday’s statement. "The farm bill matters for people in every county in this country and there is no more time to waste."