House Republicans called on newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson to pass the 2023 Farm Bill, as congressional leaders warn an extension of the agricultural spending package may be necessary to avoid wreaking havoc on the food system.
"The Farm Bill is a critical agenda item that must be addressed this Congress," a group of 61 Republicans wrote to Johnson the day after he was chosen Speaker. "We urge you and the Conference at-large to be united in ensuring swift passage of a strong Farm Bill that is written by farmers, for farmers."
Last week, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said turmoil in the House will mean "we will need an extension" on the farm bill. Negotiators have also struggled to bridge the two sides of the political aisle, as Democrats and Republicans remain apart on funding priorities in the farm bill.
Johnson's election ended three weeks of chaos that prevented lawmakers from conducting legislative business. However, farm bill consideration has stalled as lawmakers scramble to keep the government funded ahead of a Nov. 17 deadline and look to reach agreements on other Biden administration priorities, including war aid to Israel and Ukraine.
Congress also still needs to pass spending bills for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies.
Pushing consideration of the farm bill into next year could have implications for lawmakers up for re-election in 2024. More than 92% of planted acres in the U.S. are represented by Republicans, members noted in the letter to Johnson.
“Simply put, farm and food security is national security," the letter said. "[T]he farm safety net, including commodity support programs and crop insurance, provides farmers and ranchers the foundation they need to manage risk, pass their farm or ranch down to the next generation, and continue producing the highest quality, lowest cost food, fuel, fiber, and forestry products in the world.”