Farm Bill to Focus on Climate Change and Sustainability

Josh McGill Agriculture, Farm Bill, Legislative

The 2023 Farm Bill was one of the major themes of the recent Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference held at the University of Florida’s Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka.

While in the early stages, discussions are already underway for next year’s farm bill. The federal legislation will lay out agricultural policy for the following five years. The direction given by the Biden administration is that the upcoming farm bill will focus on climate change and agriculture’s role in contributing to and mitigating the problem.

Farm Bill

Roger Cryan, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, discussed the farm bill during the conference. While climate will be a focus, current events could intervene to some degree, he said.

“Sustainability will be a massive theme of the next farm bill,” Cryan said. “There has been some backing off on this in some parts of the world as what appears to be unfolding is a potential hunger, food-security crisis triggered by the Russian/Ukrainian issue.

“Things have gone very well in agriculture over the past 40 years in terms of our ability to improve production and feed the world. We’ve had so much stability and effective growth. But this year is a reminder how fragile all these things are; this massive disruption of the world agricultural marketing system from a single conflict in Ukraine.”

The administration has announced its Climate Smart Agriculture program. It already has allocated $1 billion in funding for pilot programs to develop data and models to understand best practices for climate.

“Those models will be part of the discussion for the next farm bill,” Cryan said. “The American Farm Bureau, above all when it comes to sustainability, is looking for voluntary, market-based programs. We have a lot of work to do on the next farm bill.”

These types of market-based programs could reward growers for ecosystem services. The concept basically provides growers with compensation for services like capturing carbon in the soil or providing habitat for wildlife.

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