Before adjourning for their traditional August recess away from Washington, Congress had a productive summer – sending multiple bills to President Biden for his signature.
CHIPs and Science Act signed into law
On August 9, the president signed the bipartisan ”CHIPs and Science Act” into law. With microchip shortages impacting availability of all kinds of equipment including cars, trucks, tractors, and other farm equipment, this $52 billion package is intended to boost domestic manufacturing and competitiveness. The bill includes funding for US semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing; authorizes new programs across the federal government to strengthen supply chains; and authorizes a number of science and energy policy directives.
Inflation Reduction Act sent to president
Congress also utilized the budget reconciliation process to send a $700 billion “Inflation Reduction Act” to the president’s desk. Passed with only support from House and Senate Democrats, this measure signed by President Biden on August 16 includes a mix of tax increases, prescription drug pricing reform, expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies, and energy and climate-related investments. The package includes $300 billion in deficit reduction measures along with $437 billion in new spending. Among the spending measures are approximately $40 billion in agricultural spending including:
- $ 5 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation environmental quality incentives program
- $3.25 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation conservation stewardship program
- $6.7 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation regional conservation partnership program
- $1.4 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation agricultural conservation easement program
- $ 1 billion for conservation technical assistance and $300 million for a carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions quantification program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service
- $5 billion for wildfire protection and climate-smart forestry
- $500 million for grants to increase the sale and use of agricultural commodity-based fuels through infrastructure improvements of blending, storing, supplying, or distributing biofuels through the Section 9003 program
- $9.7 billion in USDA assistance for long-term resiliency, reliability and affordability of rural electric systems.
Government spending measure expected before September 30
With the midterm elections approaching in November, the House and Senate will need to pass a government spending measure ahead of the fiscal year end on September 30. It is likely they will pass a Continuing Resolution to fund federal government programs and agencies until after the elections, setting the stage for a busy lame duck session at the end of the year.
Preparation continues for Farm Bill reauthorization
With the 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization just around the corner, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have continued their preparation process. The Committees have conducted numerous hearings throughout the summer including a June Senate Agriculture Committee field hearing in Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Republican Senator John Boozman’s home state of Arkansas. During this hearing Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Boozman heard from a number of Arkansas agriculture producers and experts. The House Agriculture Committee has continued its review of the Farm Bill with recent hearings on the Dairy, Forestry, and Crop Insurance titles. The five-year 2018 Farm Bill expires in September of 2023.