Potential Obstacles in Developing the 2023 Farm Bill
The upcoming farm bill will be the 19th in U.S. history. Randy Russell of the Russell Group has watched nine farm bills developed during his career. He says the farm economic environment at the time the farm bill is written is a key driver, and overall, the financial picture in ag is still pretty solid.
Russell… “In 2022, we had a net cash income of $199 billion. I mean, it was a record level. This year at the Outlook Conference, Seth Meyer and others at USDA predicted it would be about $150 billion for net cash income. While down considerably, 17 percent from the year before, still well above what we would say over the last 20 or 21 years. The debt-to-asset ratio for agriculture is somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 percent. When I was Chief of Staff at USDA for Secretary Block back in the mid-80s, the debt-to-asset ratio was 22 percent. Remember back then, farm equity values dropped by a third. The Farm Credit System needed to bail out, and it was a very difficult time. So that balance sheet for ag is much better, obviously, than historical averages.”
Russell spoke during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Washington Watch event. The other two factors he pointed to that influence farm bills are the budget environment and the political situation.