Currently, government officials are in the process of debating the contents of the upcoming farm bill, which has been historically renewed every five years. This bill is very important for farmers and rural communities alike, as it is meant to support these communities and the nation’s food supply. These are the goals of the 2024 farm bill, as well as a few ways that the bill may impact investors and landowners.
Goals for the 2024 Farm Bill
The 2024 farm bill should seek to keep food prices fair for farmers and consumers, ensure an adequate food supply, and protect and sustain the country’s vital natural resources. This has always been the goal of the farm bill, ever since it was originally signed in response to the economic and environmental crises of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Here are twelve areas the 2024 farm bill should address:
- 1. Commodities: support for major crops like corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, rice, dairy, and sugar, as well as disaster assistance.
- 2. Conservation
- 3. Trade
- 4. Nutrition
- 5. Credit
- 6. Rural Development
- 7. Research, extension, and related matters
- 8. Forestry
- 9. Energy
- 10. Horticulture
- 11. Crop Insurance
- 12. Miscellaneous: programs/assistance for livestock and poultry production, support for beginning farmers and ranchers, and other miscellaneous provisions.
How Could This Impact Buyers, Sellers, and Land Investors?
One of the most important things the 2024 farm bill can do is to remove uncertainty from agriculture, nutrition, and conservation programs and move away from ad hoc disaster aid. It would also address the rising costs farmers and ranchers are facing today. Bolstering faith in these programs and reigning in production costs would be a massive benefit to farmers and farmland owners.
The expiration of the farm bill would leave some programs with no authorization, while others would revert to archaic permanent laws established before 1950. Some of the programs that would expire would include nutrition assistance and farm commodity support programs. Crop insurance has permanent authority and does not need reauthorization, but it needs to be made more accessible to farmers. For example, approximately 45% of corn acres in PA are not insured, so farmers are on the hook for costs if their crops fail due to climate, trade, or other disasters.
The farm bill would help address some of the headwinds facing agriculture today like climate issues such as drought. It would also soothe stresses from labor shortages and the rising costs of labor, fertilizer, and other inputs. Similarly, the farm bill could help mitigate energy issues and improve transportation as well as the United States’ ability to sell its agricultural products globally.
The current policy has been for ad hoc spending for emergencies due to trade and pandemic shocks. The 2024 farm bill could address this issue so that ad hoc spending would not be necessary or provided too late to help farmers and ranchers dealing with emergencies due to trade or pandemic shocks. With ad hoc assistance, producers and their lenders have no idea what kind of assistance will be available, or which programs they will be eligible for when a disaster strikes. This is extremely inefficient and can result in farmers and ranchers going bankrupt if assistance is untimely.
The Farm Bill provides a safety net for farmers through increased focus on conservation and climate benefits, as well as diversification of income through wind, solar, carbon sequestration, and biofuel production. There is also an increased focus on all levels of farming from large to smaller farms in addition to specialty crop production.
More conservation programs would be available that offer incentives to farmers and ranchers for conventional and organic farming, specialty and commodity crops, forestry and wildlife, and livestock operations.
Hopefully, then, for farmers, ranchers, investors, and rural landowners, the 2024 farm bill will positively impact land, rural communities, energy, trade, conservation, and more. It will potentially eliminate some of the stress and uncertainties with disaster, trade, or pandemic assistance. The farm bill may also help mitigate energy and input costs and bolster rural infrastructure to enable rural communities to thrive and encourage young people to farm and live in rural areas that offer daycare, schools, transportation, etc.
This bill has a lot riding on it given today’s economic and political climate, and we hope that the United States government will take the steps necessary to protect our country’s most important producers. Please contact me or another Land Professional if you’d like to learn more about what this bill could do for our farmers