A Collaborative Approach to the 2023 Farm Bill: Uniting Both Sides of the Aisle Around Top Priorities
While Congress remains exceptionally polarized, there is a glimmer of hope for bipartisan collaboration in the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill. There are a broad range of stakeholders, ranging from farmers, food companies, nutrition advocates, and of course, policymakers who will have to sell the package to their constituents.
Given the current Farm Bill became law in December 2018, members of Congress have already begun policy negotiations and discussions during subcommittee group hearings in anticipation of the 2023 Farm Bill, which is set to expire on September 30, 2023. Historically, Farm Bills vary in time from introduction to passage, with the 2018 bill taking eight months to pass and the 2014 bill taking more than 21 months. The 2023 Farm Bill, drafted by members of Congress sitting across House and Senate Agriculture Committees, will seek to address the sector’s most pressing and evolving needs: nutrition, smart-climate agriculture and consistent training and education across the workforce.
Nutrition and Food Security
The nutrition portion will likely be the most contentious – but vital – element of the 2023 Farm Bill. Detailing topics such as nutrition assistance, management and commodity support, and conservation, it will touch every part of the food and beverage ecosystem. Given its impact on program recipients throughout the nation, these elements are increasingly important to reflect the agility and flexibility demonstrated throughout the pandemic. From nutrition and emergency assistance to supplemental food programs for seniors, citizens across the country rely on the outcome of this bill to meet the ever-evolving demands of the people.
Mirroring the Biden administration’s approach, climate-related facets of the package will include voluntary, pro-production incentives that have the potential to result in a complimentary income stream for farmers. The climate-smart approach is being articulated as a process-based comprehensive strategy and keeps the farmers’ best interests in mind. A climate solution is imperative to the agricultural industry’s future and supports the collaboration and integration of both stakeholders and producers.
Workforce Training and Education
Agriculture and food industries both seem to see consistent, measurable, research-based information to inform the workforce training and education programs. As our 2021 Authenticity Gap – Power of Authenticity Report found, 79% of consumers say that brands should focus on developing working practices that protect the environment as they prepare for the future. From best practices on-the-ground to food storage in the supermarket, all individuals involved in the various steps of the supply chain will benefit from continued training and education.
The 2023 Farm Bill will address the paradigm shift taking place in the agricultural sector, acknowledge the generational impact on the industry, and further underscore the importance of food security. Food and beverage companies should closely observe the Farm Bill’s path to law given the broader implications to key stakeholders and the industry. While many proposals won’t make it into the final bill that gets sent for President Joe Biden’s signature, a select few will serve as powerful messaging vehicles and raise visibility around important reputation issues for firms.
No exception to previous years, the final package will impact every American in a way that so few others do and will require immense collaboration and compromise on both sides of the aisle — and the final product will impact the food and beverage ecosystem for generations to come.