At the National Association of Farm Broadcasters last week in Kansas City, Senior Farm and Ranch broadcaster Ron Hays caught up with Mary Kay Thatcher with Syngenta to talk about the midterm elections and her thoughts on 2023. Thatcher said she wasn’t sure it would make a massive difference, ” Every incumbent in the Senate was reelected that wanted to be reelected. And in the House, it’s like 97%. So we’re not going to see a big change come January.” However, Thatcher said she did think we would see a bit of emphasis change having the Republicans in charge of the House Ag Committee versus the Democrats. Still, she said that’s not to say Republicans won’t be thinking about climate change and conservation measures, ” I think both the House and Senate Ag Committee learned a long time ago that we got to be bipartisan or we’re going to lose whatever battle we come into, and I think that will continue to be the same.”
With Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas winning re-election, Thatcher says she is thrilled to have the possibility of having him back on the House Ag Committee, “I’m thrilled to have him back; it’s just wonderful.” Of course, GT Thompson will be a great chairman. But you know, Frank Lucas has been through it several times, and he knows things he knows the right kind of people, and I’m really pleased he’s coming back to the House Ag Committee.”
Thatcher said she would like to see both parties working together on the next farm bill. One of the significant issues she fears is that farmers think there will be new money to improve the safety net, “I’m not sure that comes to fruition. I think you’re going to see the Republicans in the House really think about the deficit, the debt, something nobody’s really cared about for 20 years.” Thatcher said agriculture would not be getting more money if that does happen. At the same time, everything else is being cut, “I think a lot is going to rest on what happens to that 18-19 billion dollars that we got for conservation and climate change programs. And do the new budget committees decide that it stays in the baseline, and we get to use it to write a new farm bill? And if it stays in the baseline, does all of it stay in conservation, or do we put some money towards improving the safety” Thatcher says there are still a lot of unknowns that we probably won’t know till May or June.
Thatcher said one of her worries is that if we see a trillion-dollar farm bill, people will get confused about where all the farm bill dollars go, “You look at the last farm bill; I think it was supposed to be 860 billion and DC people get confused over are we talking billions or millions? But people don’t get confused over a trillion dollars. It gets played up as “The Farm Bill,” so you get a lot of urban people who think oh, that means farmers are getting the whole 1.3 trillion, which of course, isn’t true. 84% of it is still going to nutrition so it will require a lot of education.”
Beyond just the Farm Bill, Thatcher said they would be paying attention to what is going on with EPA, ” I think there’ll be a lot of oversight of EPA whether it’s Waters of the US or taking away pesticide tools or Endangered Species Act or ethanol. So there’s a lot of overseeing there.”
Thatcher thinks with Republicans in charge, there we will be more transparent about what’s going on there, “That’s going to be important. Because this administration, in my opinion, realized six months ago they probably were going to lose either the House or the Senate, or maybe both, and so if they really wanted to accomplish their mission, they’re going to have to do it by regulation and like government edict. So we now will have a lot more transparency into that.”
Thatcher would also see trade discussions ramp up: ” I’m not sure we’re going to convince this administration of anything, but you know, cutting trade deals that only deal with the environment and maybe sanitary phytosanitary issues. While there may be some positives, the real positive would come if we went in and cut tariffs and other countries worldwide are going on without us, and we just can’t let that happen.”
To hear the complete conversation between Thatcher and Hays, click or tap below.