House passes reconciliation bill, sends it to Biden
The House on Friday, Aug. 12, passed the Inflation Reduction Act, also known as the reconciliation bill.
The bill was passed by a vote of 220 to 207, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all Republicans who voted opposed. Four Republicans did not vote.
The bill had already been passed by the Senate and it will now go to President Biden for his signature.
The massive legislation focuses mostly on climate and health measures, but it includes $40 billion to increase agriculture programs.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., said in a floor statement that “the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 before us today makes historic investments in climate change mitigation, our critical forestry and conservation programs, rural communities, and energy and biofuels infrastructure.”
Scott also said, “This bill provides expedited relief to direct and guaranteed farm loan borrowers at risk of losing their farming operations.
“It also allows USDA to help farmers and ranchers who have suffered discrimination in Farm Service Agency farm loan programs. It requires USDA to use one or more non-governmental entities to help provide this assistance.
“Lastly, it builds upon the American Rescue Plan efforts to increase access to capital and land for our beginning and underserved producers by expanding access to technical assistance, financial training, cooperative development, assistance to address heirs’ property issues. And part of this effort includes bolstering the capacity at our 1890 and 1994 Land Grant, Insular Area, and other Minority-Serving Institutions in the areas of research, education and extension.”
Some Black farm leaders said they were disappointed the bill repeals the original race-based program but it faced court challenges. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have defended the program of farmer relief to all farmers who have faced discrimination, The New York Times reported.
Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, said House Democrats had passed a bill that amounted to “a disingenuous and partisan exercise that lacked robust debate and hearings and does nothing to provide relief to rural America.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The Inflation Reduction Act will provide significant support for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners as they care for our precious land, adapt and mitigate to climate change and ensure America remains a food secure nation.”
“With historic investments in a clean energy economy, the Inflation Reduction Act will create good-paying jobs and more economic opportunity in rural communities across the country.
“Rural Americans will see lower utility bills and appreciate the fiscally responsible way the law lowers deficits. The Inflation Reduction Act will also lower costs for seniors, who make up a higher percentage of rural populations than more urban areas, by capping their annual out of pocket costs at the pharmacy and giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices.
“The Inflation Reduction Act builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments in rural America and furthers the commitment to rural communities demonstrated in the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“The law is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build critical infrastructure, to protect communities from wildfire and extreme heat and to drive climate-smart agriculture and renewable energy initiatives nationwide.”
AG GROUPS RESPOND
American Farmland Trust Policy Director Tim Fink said, “Enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act comes at a pivotal time for our nation’s farm and food system, and American Farmland Trust applauds Congress for including in the bill an historic investment of more than $20 billion in agricultural conservation.”
“Farmers and ranchers are critical allies in the fight against climate change, but they need tools and resources to protect their land, increase resilience to extreme weather, sequester carbon in the soil, and reduce emissions.
“AFT has long advocated for much-needed increases in conservation funding. As this sweeping legislation heads to the president for his signature, we are eager to continue working with Congress and USDA to implement these investments quickly, equitably, and effectively.”
Rob Larew, president of the Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union, said, “The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is cause for optimism for farmers and ranchers across the country, with historic investments in voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs that are critically underfunded.”
“NFU is proud to see investment in biofuels infrastructure that will help farmers’ bottom line and help consumers save at the pump. The inclusion of financial support for economically distressed farmers and ranchers is also a welcome addition that will help keep farmers on their land for years to come.”
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner said, “The increased funding to support climate-smart agriculture included in the Inflation Reduction Act that passed the House of Representatives today represents a recognition by policymakers of the important role that America’s farmers, ranchers and growers can play in addressing the issue of climate change.”
“It is especially important that the funding is targeted at voluntary, working-lands conservation programs that have a long, proven track record of success. We look forward to working with the House and Senate agriculture committees as they begin writing a new farm bill next year to ensure that this funding is utilized as effectively as possible to promote climate-smart farming practices.”
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “When it comes to ethanol and other renewable fuels, this bill represents the most significant federal commitment to low-carbon biofuels since the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded by Congress in 2007.”
“We look forward to these provisions becoming law quickly so that American families have greater access to lower-cost, American-made renewable fuels that are good for the environment, the economy, and energy security.”
Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced a bill to double USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program funding.
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