🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now

What to expect from the 2023 Farm Bill

Savannah Maher Dec 28, 2022
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Above, a sign alerting customers about SNAP food stamps benefits — which are funded through the Farm Bill — is displayed at a Brooklyn grocery store. Scott Heins/Getty Images

What to expect from the 2023 Farm Bill

Savannah Maher Dec 28, 2022
Heard on:
Above, a sign alerting customers about SNAP food stamps benefits — which are funded through the Farm Bill — is displayed at a Brooklyn grocery store. Scott Heins/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In 2023, Congress will start negotiating a new farm bill. That sweeping spending package gets an update roughly every five years. It provides a financial safety net to the agricultural sector and has a huge impact on farming economies and livelihoods.

But it also dictates how much the government spends on hunger and nutrition assistance programs and who gets to access them.

The Farm Bill has roots in the Great Depression, when Congress signed off on what were supposed to be temporary handouts to the struggling agricultural sector.

“And in the very old days, it used to be a farm bill — that is, it was about farming and agriculture and the like,” said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at UC Davis.

The farm bill still props up American agriculture with crop subsidies that have become a legislative fixture, he said. But now, “about 90% of the spending and the interest in the so-called farm bill is food subsidies, things like food stamps.”

The program now known as SNAP, plus public school lunches and the WIC nutrition program, have all stretched thin in recent years, according to Vince Hall with the nonprofit Feeding America.

“We are transitioning from a pandemic crisis to a hunger crisis,” he said. His organization is pushing for big funding increases for nutrition assistance programs, and it’s prepared for showdowns over who can access them.

Meanwhile, tribal nations will be pushing for more control over federal food distribution in Indian Country. The last bill in 2018 started an experiment allowing tribes more flexibility in spending, said Carly Griffith Hotvedt with the Native Farm Bill Coalition.

“Tribes had the opportunity to source food from local producers or tribal vendors who were producing culturally relevant and traditional food products,” she said.

This time around, the organization is looking to make that program permanent.

We can also expect more focus on climate and sustainability in the 2023 negotiations, Sumner said.

The bill covers a lot of ground, “and just about everybody has an interest in it,” he said.

We should all be paying attention to which programs Congress decides to support and at what cost, Sumner added.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.