2022 Ag Policy Watchlist

2022 ag policy watchlist

Five Ag Policy Issues That We’re Watching in 2022

From time to time, the AEI.ag team compiles an agriculture policy watch list summarizing the issues on the front burner now that may affect the farm economy for years to come. (For a quick refresher, here’s what was on our watchlist last May.)

Review our top five below – and be sure to connect with us on Twitter to share what’s on your watch list.

Build Back Better

President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill has been on hold since Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he couldn’t support the House-passed version of the Build Back Better legislation, which notably includes provisions in support of conservation practices in agriculture, like cover crops.

Will a scaled-back version of the BBB get signed into law? What agriculture investments will make it through? Or will the Senate-passed Growing Climate Solutions Act get momentum instead?

Related AEI Premium insights:

Read: With 2021 in the Review What Might be In Store for 2022?


“Carbon market” has become a ubiquitous term in agriculture circles, seemingly overnight. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the House Ag Committee last week touting climate-focused achievements during the administration’s first year and again pointed to carbon markets as a new opportunity to pay farmers for carbon sequestration.

Will CCC funds ultimately be used to fund proposed climate change mitigation initiatives? Or will private sector carbon initiatives take the lead? Stay tuned.

Related AEI Premium insights:

Listen: The second season of AEI’s podcast explores lessons learned from the history of ethanol, ag’s past environmental policy, to discuss what might be ahead for carbon markets.


Antitrust issues have proven to be a major focus for the administration, putting the spotlight on cattle markets and pricing. The White House issued an action plan in January and debate is heating up on Capitol Hill over the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act.

Reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Act could present an opportunity to make some updates. LMR is currently set to expire with the current Continuing Resolution on February 18. At this point, it’s unclear if an agreement can be reached before then. (Side note: if lawmakers can’t agree on FY22 spending before then, another stopgap spending bill will be needed or risk a partial government shutdown.)

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Read: COVID-19 and Competition in the Cattle Markets

Farm Bill

Believe it or not, it’s nearly farm bill time again. Authority for many programs in the 2018 Farm Bill expires in 2023. No field hearings have been announced yet, but House Ag Chairman David Scott (D-GA) has said he wants to kick off the farm bill process as soon as January. The farm bill could present another opportunity for Democrats to scale up climate-focused programs.

Timing is important, because several members of the House Ag Committee face tough re-elections during the upcoming midterms, and others have already announced their retirement. Ultimately, the outcome of the midterms could flip control of the House or Senate or both, just in time to write a new farm bill.

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The “Phase One” agreement officially expired on December 31, 2021 – and China fell short of its pledge. (Although agriculture exports seem to have come the closest.) But while China’s purchase commitments have expired, the policies that opened up new trade by removing non-tariff barriers remain in place. But will tensions between the U.S. and China prompt Beijing to diversify its agriculture imports away from the U.S.?

And what will the Biden Administration’s trade agenda focus on, beyond China? Some U.S. agriculture sectors have faced increasing challenges from key trade partner Mexico, for example. Meanwhile, will the U.S. and UK be able to come to an agreement on steel tariffs or a broader trade deal?

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Read: China’s Ag Purchase Remain Fast-Paced

Wrapping It Up

That’s our shortlist. But many other topics, like whether cultured meat regulations will move forward, how high inflation will climb, and the ongoing global effects of African Swine Fever continue to be on our minds, too.

What policy issues are you watching as 2022 gets going?

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