After a quite 2022 policy wise, many in the farming community are prepared for a busy 12 months ahead.  Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Manager Federal Government Industry Relations For Syngenta, says much of the past year in Washington D.C. was spent on preparing for the mid-term elections, so little meaningful legislation was addressed.


But this year looks to be very different, thanks to the 2023 Farm Bill.  One of the key issues Thatcher will watch closely, is crop insurance.


“It’s helped us do away with ad hoc disaster assistance, which is always iffy, always gets paid out two or three years after the disaster.  But now you know with the money that went out for COVID and the tit-for-tat trade war, I mean it's been a lot of money in the last few years.  And there are people out there saying ‘well maybe we want more permanent disaster assistance’.  I don't think you can have both.  I think if you push too much more on permanent disaster assistance, then the other side will push on us and say ‘OK, but we don't need as many premium subsidies for farmers and crop insurance.  We’ll still provide it, but let's make farmers pay more for it’.  I think that's the wrong way to go.  I think everything we can do to keep a strong crop insurance program is critical.”


Thatcher added after the November Red Wave did not materialize, it will be hard for Republicans to move much of their agenda.


“We’re going to have to make very sure that people like the House Freedom Caucus, the really, really conservative right wing doesn't, you know, take down the moderate kind of ideas that are moving forward.  We're going to have to make sure that everything is bipartisan.  I don't know that I think it's going to change the outcome of the Farm Bill a lot, because I think decades ago we learned we have to hang together and agriculture continues to be a pretty bipartisan issue most of the time.  But we won't have the votes in either the Senate or the House if we don't have both Democrats and Republicans.”


Thatcher said she expects the 2023 Farm Bill to be "evolutionary, and not revolutionary".  And she added for those that want to do away with the nutrition title in the Farm Bill, Thatcher says don’t hold your breath, adding a Farm Bill without SNAP and other food assistance programs would not clear Congress.



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