Next year’s farm bill negotiations will require a true bipartisan effort, ag policy experts said following the results of last week’s midterm elections. 

Although votes were still be­ing counted in some key races late last week, Republicans are expected to gain a majority in the House of Representatives by a very narrow margin. Control of the Senate will be unknown until a runoff election in Georgia is decided Dec. 6.

Farm bills have traditionally been a bipartisan effort centered more on regional issues rather than party lines, former North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said on a post-election webinar hosted by Agri-Pulse. Compromise will be needed more than ever in 2023, especially with increasingly urban representation among Democrats who will be more interested in the bill’s nutrition programs than farm spending. 

“When we go into hyper-partisan mode, all of agriculture loses,” said Heitkamp. “You can’t pass a farm bill unless you get a compromise on nutrition. Think about where compromise can provide an opportunity for you to get the systems that you need.” 

It will also be important to inform new members of Congress about the importance of the farm bill, according to American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. Even before last week’s elections, more than 150 members of the U.S. House were new since the last farm bill was passed.

“We need to make (them) understand how important it is to all Americans, whether you’re in rural America or whether you’re in urban America.”