Policy and Payments: What Producers Can Expect in 2023

    The committee has six months to make headway on farm bill negotiations before Congressional recess starts in June. (Farm Journal)

    The calendar flip to 2023 signals a new Congress and, this year, a new farm bill. With that comes unpredictability. Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer policy analyst, lays out what could be ahead for ag policy in coming months.

    Passing a Farm Bill

    Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), the new House Ag Committee Chairman, intends to hit the ground running on the farm bill as early as next week, with the first farm bill hearing taking place in his home state of Pennsylvania on Saturday.

    “I think now the odds we could get a new farm bill this year because the sensitive issues such as climate change and food stamps weren’t totally settled in the omnibus spending bill,” Wiesemeyer says.

    Upon his election, Thompson said the committee will keep it’s “foot on the gas” to deliver a farm bill that will “prioritize” the needs of the farmers, ranchers and foresters.

    The committee has six months to make headway on farm bill negotiations before Congressional recess starts in June.

    Pandemic Assistance Programs Continue

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will also be busy aiding ag in 2023, as they formulate a plan to implement Phase Two of Emergency Relief Payments (ERP).

    Each Monday, the OMB releases an announcement to showcase how much funding has been dispersed through the phase. Phase Two will likely run on the same process, but have different operating components, according to Wiesemeyer.

    “Farm groups still tell me, from the last thing they’ve heard from USDA, they won’t like how Phase Two operates,” he says. “We’ll see how this all plays out, pending any last-minute changes from USDA.”

    According to Wiesemeyer, Phase One dispersal was slow and rocky, but the funding amount was plentiful.

    Lock-In WOTUS

    An official definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) is also on the horizon in 2023, following an interim definition proposed by the EPA last week. However, the final ruling might not be what some had hoped.

    Wiesemeyer says some analysts feel, following the interim proposal, the government now has more room to interpret the court’s WOTUS decision. He sees how this could be the government’s strategy.

    “A number of lawmakers did not want the EPA to come out with any ruling on WOTUS, no matter if it was interim or not,” Wiesemeyer says. “But you know lawyers—once they think they have more flexibility, they’ll use it.”

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