A plan to reduce input costs for farmers and food costs for consumers is being heralded by 94 House Republicans, but there’s doubt the proposal will catch the attention of the Biden administration.
In a letter to the president drafted by U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republicans outline nine solutions they believe will lessen the regulatory costs they say are hampering U.S. agricultural production.
Republicans urge the Biden administration to halt proposed changes to the waters of the United States rules and end a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would require farms of all sizes to track and report climate data to companies with which they do business.
Thompson, the Republican leader of the House Agriculture Committee, also introduced the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act, which would require the Biden Administration to reverse numerous regulatory changes and address input costs.
“The U.S. and the world face a disrupted global food system resulting in increased energy prices, fertilizer cost spikes and shortages, and worsening food scarcities in developing countries. We’re in a crisis moment, and we need concrete, immediate policy actions to help mitigate impacts both at home and abroad,” Thompson said.
Thompson accused the administration of not taking serious action as diesel prices and other farm costs skyrocket.
The act, which was introduced as House Resolution 8069 on June 15, has been referred to several committees. While Thompson waits for it to move, he said the solutions outlined in the bill can be implemented without Congress via executive order by the Biden administration.
For example, Thompson said high fertilizer prices can be addressed by adding potash and phosphorus to the critical minerals list maintained by the Interior Department. Doing so, he said, would streamline domestic mining of those materials and increase production.
“We identified nine items the Biden administration can fix overnight,” Thompson said, adding that previous letters sent to the White House have failed to garner a response.
When asked if he expected to hear back from the administration about the latest letter, Thompson said, “Not with this administration. I’d love to get a response back, but I’m not optimistic.”
In March, USDA announced a $250 million grant program to support domestic fertilizer production. Also, on June 16, the House passed the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, a measure led by Democrats to address supply chain issues, food and fuel costs, and competition concerns in the meat and poultry industries.
Included in the legislation (H.R. 7606) is $500 million in additional USDA National Resources Conservation Service payments to help farmers implement nutrient management practices and purchase precision ag equipment.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., lauded the bipartisan effort behind the act, but chastised the Republican members who voted against the legislation.
“The American people deserve better than that. We should not be playing politics with people’s pocketbooks,” Scott said.
Thompson noted that five Democrats voted with Republicans in opposition to the legislation. He doesn’t believe the act has a promising future when it reaches the Senate because it lacks robust bipartisan support.
Still, if the act is passed by the Senate, Thompson said it will hamper the meat processing industry by increasing compliance costs, which in turn will spike food prices for consumers. He added the legislation was opposed by numerous agriculture organizations.
“What the Democrats just passed is not going to bring down food and fuel prices,” Thompson said. “Our bill provides real solutions for the American farmer to see input costs come down and for consumers to see food prices decrease as well. And it’s something the Biden administration can implement overnight with the stroke of a pen.”