Back to June 2024

National Pecan Federation Updates Industry on 2024 Farm Bill

A group of people in business wear standing in front of the Capitol.

The National Pecan Federation (NPF) and its industry partners from across the country gathered again this April in Washington, D.C. to speak to legislators and staffers about industry priorities. The discussions focused on the upcoming Farm Bill, crop insurance, purchase programs, exports, research, and food and nutrition programs. The Redding Firm, who represents the pecan industry through the NPF, had a group meeting with key members and staffers of agriculture and other committees, as well as departments within the USDA. The work done on behalf of pecan producers and processors through NPF cannot be done without the support of the industry. Consider donating to the PECAN PAC. Individuals, sole proprietorships, partnerships and LLCs are all able to participate. Checks can be mailed to: PECAN PAC 313 Massachusetts Ave. NE Washington, D.C.20002.

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Schedules Farm Bill Markup for May 23

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee recently released its “2024 Farm Bill Overview” and announced that they will be marking up this legislation in committee on May 23. Full bill text is expected to be released on May 17. U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson stated: 

“This bill is a product of an extensive and transparent process, which included soliciting feedback from Members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the nation, and some tough conversations. Each title of this farm bill reflects a commitment to the American farmer and viable pathways to funding those commitments and is equally responsive to the politics of the 118th Congress. The Committee on Agriculture will markup this bill on May 23, and I hope for unanimous support in this endeavor to bring stability to producers, protect our nation’s food security, and revitalize rural America.”

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Overview contains pecan priorities, including increasing funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, as well as additional funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Other provisions, such as updates to crop insurance and disaster assistance programs, will be developed in more detail when the full bill text is released. 

In response to the released framework, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott stated:

“Agriculture Committee Democrats presented a farm bill counterproposal to our Republican colleagues as part of an ongoing, years-long bipartisan process that could invest tens of billions of dollars in the farm bill safety net without cuts to SNAP benefits. Unfortunately, Republicans rejected this bipartisan approach in favor of a partisan bill with an untenable funding scheme. By insisting on poison pill policies, Republicans have turned what could have been a genuinely bipartisan bill into a messaging exercise to appease their right flank that has no chance of becoming law.”

U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Majority Release Rural Food and Prosperity Act

The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) recently unveiled the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, which contains the democratic priorities for the 2024 Farm Bill. Chairwoman Stabenow stated: 

“This is a serious proposal that reflects bipartisan priorities to keep farmers farming, families fed, and rural communities strong. The foundation of every successful Farm Bill is built on holding together the broad bipartisan coalition of farmers, rural communities, nutrition and hunger advocates, researchers, conservationists, and the climate community. This is that bill, and I welcome my Republican colleagues to take it seriously and rejoin us at the negotiating table so we can finish our work by the end of the year. Farmers, families, and rural communities cannot wait any longer on the 2024 Farm Bill.”  

Notably for pecans, the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act amends the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to: 

  • Eliminate the requirement that tree mortality exceed 15 percent  (adjusted for normal mortality) for eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to access TAP; 
  • Clarify that a TAP recipient may use assistance to replant using alternative varieties, crops, stand density, and location; 
  • Give TAP recipients two years to carry out replacement or rehabilitation activities; 
  • Expand access to crops grown on a biennial cycle and 
  • Add pest infestation as an eligible natural disaster.

U.S. Senator John Boozman, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, issued the following statement after Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released the majority’s farm bill framework.

“Chairwoman Stabenow and I have had several conversations about getting our ideas down on paper, so the release of the majority’s framework is a welcome development. My colleagues and I will be soliciting input from stakeholders as we consider these ideas alongside the approach we have constructed in our framework, which will be released after the House considers its bill in the coming weeks. With Chairwoman Stabenow releasing a framework that reflects Senate Democrats’ priorities, and Chairman Thompson’s work to advance legislation out of committee this month, I’m optimistic that real progress on the farm bill can still occur this Congress.

Our actions must reflect the realities in farm country. Farmers are facing challenging times that, by every metric, are likely to continue in the coming years. Considering the farm bill only comes around every five years, we must ensure we do right by our farmers and make meaningful investments in the risk management tools they rely on to weather the storm.”

There has been no indication from Chairwoman Stabenow on when the full bill text might be released or when the legislation will be considered in Committee. 

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Passes Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Reform Act

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee passed the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Reform Act recently in a 25-17 party-line vote. The GSP Reform Act, introduced by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), would reauthorize the GSP program until December 31, 2030. The legislation permanently bans China from the list of eligible countries and sets new country eligibility for participation to ensure fair treatment for U.S. agricultural exports, fair digital and tax treatment of U.S. companies and workers, democracy, good governance, and anti-corruption standards, and national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program that provides nonreciprocal, duty-free treatment enabling many of the world’s developing countries to spur diversity and economic growth through trade. Economic development is promoted by eliminating duties on thousands of products when imported from designated beneficiary countries and territories. 

In addition to the new country eligibility requirements, this legislation creates the first agriculture-specific eligibility criteria for participating countries. This is intended to create additional leverage to open markets for American farmers. The legislation would allow removal of countries for placing non-science-based barriers on U.S. agricultural products or who provide unfair subsidies. Reforms would also utilize GSP to ensure fair digital trade and tax treatment for U.S. companies and workers, allowing for the removal of countries that impose discriminatory measures against the U.S.

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall Introduces Legislation on Agricultural Disasters

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) recently introduced legislation that would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using a “progressive payment factor” in administering disaster assistance that disproportionately benefits small-scale or minority growers, as was done in the 2022 Emergency Relief Program (ERP). Senator Marshall’s bill would also authorize a new round of ERP payments for 2023. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates crop losses exceeded $21 billion last year nationwide.

Senator Marshall also led a letter to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration urging leadership to include funding for a disaster program to address 2023 agricultural losses as they begin the stages of drafting the Fiscal Year 2025 funding bill.

In 2022, USDA had to prorate the payments because the amount of funding fell far short of the estimated uncovered losses. However, congressional critics and other farm groups criticized the progressive factoring methodology and felt that the program punished farms with the largest losses. In December, 141 agricultural groups, including the National Pecan Federation, signed on to a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing the current 2022 Emergency Relief Program. 

Author Photo

National Pecan Federation

The National Pecan Federation (NPF) represents pecan growers and pecan shellers (many of whom are also importers) across the United States. The NPF's mission is to promote, protect, and improve business conditions for the pecan industry by representing and advocating their common interest to the government. The NPF comprises industry organizations across the US, including the Western Pecan Growers Association, Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association, Texas Pecan Growers Association, Southeastern Pecan Growers Association, Georgia Pecan Growers Association, and the National Pecan Shellers Association.