The 2023 Farm Bill, currently in the works in Congress, has the potential to greatly impact California farms and the agricultural industry as a whole. This legislation, updated every 5 years, provides funding and policy direction for various programs within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), including those related to agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and rural development.
If you look back at the 2018 Farm Bill, the 2018 Congressional Budget Office projected that "76% of the budget will fund nutrition programs, 9% will fund crop insurance programs, 7% will fund conservation programs, 7% will fund commodity programs, and the final 1% will fund all other programs including trade, credit, rural development, research and extension, forestry, horticulture, and miscellaneous programs." The 2018 Farm Bill will remain current until September of 2023. Due to the size and implications these programs have, Congress has already begun debating the 2023 Bill.
One of the key ways in which the 2023 Farm Bill affects farmers is through the expansion of support for specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. This includes increased funding for research, marketing, and export promotion, as well as the creation of new programs to address labor shortages and food safety concerns in the specialty crop industry. These provisions are aimed at helping farmers in the specialty crop sector to improve their competitiveness in the global market, and increase their profitability.
Another important aspect of the 2023 Farm Bill for farmers is the continuation of funding for the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, which provide financial assistance to farmers when crop prices or revenues fall below a certain level. This is important for farmers who may be experiencing financial difficulties due to factors such as weather events, market fluctuations, and trade disputes.
The bill also includes a number of conservation provisions, such as increased funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the creation of a new program to provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers for the implementation of conservation practices. These provisions aim to help farmers protect natural resources, improve soil health and water quality, and promote wildlife habitat.
Though the 2023 Farm Bill will not likely be passed until mid-late 2023, it is important for farmers to pay great attention to the different programs that Congress decides to support.
"H.R.2 - Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018" (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2)
"2023 Farm Bill: What You Need to Know" (https://www.usda.gov/2023-farm-bill)
"Farm Bill 101: What It Is and Why It Matters" (https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-bill-basics/farm-bill-101-what-it-is-and-why-it-matters/)
"Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018: Highlights and Implications" https://www.ers.usda.gov/agriculture-improvement-act-of-2018-highlights-and-implications/
"ARC / PLC Program" https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/arcplc_program/index