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Deadline extension considered for 2023 farm bill passage, senator says

U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt and Sen. John Boozman speak to reporters after a roundtable discussion over the farm bill in Columbia, MO on Oct. 20, 2023. Boozman said he would like to consider an extension to pass the farm, which currently has an end-of-year deadline.
Sarah Kellogg
St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Sens. Eric Schmitt, R-Missouri, and John Boozman, R-Arkansas, speak to reporters after a roundtable discussion on the farm bill in Columbia on Friday.

An extended deadline for passing a congressional farm bill could be a possibility, according to the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.

Currently, lawmakers in Washington have a little more than two months to pass the 2023 farm bill.

The farm bill, a package of legislation passed roughly every five years, governs a list of agricultural and food programs in the country, including food assistance like SNAP.

Lawmakers failed to pass the bill by their end-of-September deadline and now face a much stricter end-of-year deadline.

But Arkansas Sen. John Boozman said Friday he would like to consider a one-year extension on passing the bill. He said an extension doesn’t mean it would take the entire year for the measure to pass.

“We want to get the farm bill done as soon as possible, hopefully before the end of the year. That doesn't preclude us from getting it done,” Boozman said. “But it gives us that time. And it gives the farmers the certainty that they will have a farm bill in place.”

Boozman joined Missouri U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt on Friday for a roundtable discussion with a delegation of Missouri farmers in Columbia about the farm bill.

The Republican senators heard feedback from different representatives of the farming industry, including Garrett Hawkins, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

“It's not just getting a farm bill, but it's actually getting a forward-looking bill that works for farm and ranch families first and foremost,” Hawkins said.

Meeting the end-of-year deadline is currently a daunting task. The U.S. House is without a speaker and cannot conduct any business.

Additionally, lawmakers will again work through funding the federal government and preventing a shutdown. Right now, the stopgap bill passed in September only funds the government through Nov. 17.

As to how they would pass the extension, Boozman proposes adding it to the bill responsible for funding the federal government to avoid a government shutdown.

Regarding another potential shutdown, Schmitt said the Senate hasn’t been proactive enough with appropriations bills.

“Mark my words, we're going to get to Nov. 17 and Chuck Schumer is going to say, ‘Here is a massive omnibus bill that you don't have time to read, take it or leave it. And if you don't support it, you're for a government shutdown.’ It's ridiculous,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt also said he believes whoever becomes speaker will support the farm bill.

Asked if it would be easier to pass the legislation in smaller, separate bills, Boozman disagreed.

“The farm bill is not about Democrats and Republicans. It's really odd in that regard. It's about regions of the country, it's about commodities and then you have the nutrition side and it's all of that blended together,” Boozman said. “So it's manageable, we just need to work together to figure out a path forward.”

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.