GFB News Magazine

Farm bill, labor & poultry are top issues in  D.C.

by Ben Parker
National Affairs Coordinator

Posted on March 5, 2024 10:44 PM

The 118th Congress returned to D.C. in January facing a daunting agenda – to reach consensus on federal appropriations. House and Senate Republicans were faced with crafting border security legislation and an aid package for Ukraine the Senate’s Democratic majority would pass.                         

The continuing resolution Congress passed Jan. 18 extended funding for Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction/VA and Transportation/HUD programs in the 2024 budget to March 1. Funds for Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services-General Government, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, and State-Foreign Operations programs were extended to March 8.                                      

Congress tackling other crucial legislation, such as a new farm bill, is in jeopardy if it doesn’t complete the appropriations process. Last year Congress extended the farm bill through the end of September. With this being an election year, if Congress cannot agree on farm bill language by June, it seems highly unlikely we will see a modernized version until 2025.                       

The farm bill may be the most talked-about agriculture issue, but it is far from the only issue facing American agriculture.                                                                                          

Agriculture labor and the burdensome H-2A program are high on the list. The arbitrary increases in adverse effect wage rate (AEWR) and poor trade policy for seasonal crops mean U.S. growers are competing at a significant disadvantage.                                                                            

To address this, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) led a House letter to the appropriations committee calling for the implementation of a three-year AEWR freeze in the next spending bill. The letter received bipartisan support from members across the country. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) led a Senate companion letter sent to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees Feb. 6. 

Beneficial changes to poultry production contracts are underway as well. The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service recently implemented a crucial regulation, the Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting Tournaments, commonly called the transparency rule. This rule took effect Feb. 12 to enhance competitiveness among poultry producers. The final rule outlines four key requirements designed to empower producers in their dealings with integrators.                   

First, the rule mandates that disclosures about former payments or potential payment rates be provided to broiler producers at specific points in the contracting process to provide a historical perspective on market rates.                                                                                                 

Second, integrators are required to establish a governing framework to ensure the accuracy of information provided during the contracting process to foster accountability throughout the contract period.                                                                                                                    

Third, integrators employing the poultry grower ranking system must share data on flock performance at arrival and settlement to provide growers with valuable insights into chick quality and production outcomes.                                                                                                 

Finally, contracts must specify the "minimum number of placements annually" and the "minimum stocking density for each flock," bringing transparency to contract terms. The transparency rule represents a significant stride in addressing challenges producers face when engaging with integrators to enhance grower rights and decision-making.                                       

GFB will continue working with Georgia’s U.S. Congressional delegation to address these priorities. We encourage our members to engage with them ahead of the November elections to advocate for agriculture.

Ben Parker is the national affairs coordinator in the GFB Public Policy Department. He may be reached at or 478.474.0679, ext.  5217.