The U.S. Senate and House moved quickly Friday to pass a budget deal that includes assistance for cotton and dairy farmers, following a brief government shutdown. President Donald J. Trump signed the bill into law this morning.
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Mitt Walker said the bill will provide a cushion for producers, which is critical because of dim market outlooks.
“Passage of this legislation was incredibly important to cotton farmers who have been without an adequate safety net for several years,” said Walker, the Federation’s National Legislative Programs director. “We’re pleased with the cotton provisions in the bill and believe the dairy program changes are a step in the right direction. Addressing these programs now allows for a clearer path to completing the next farm bill.”
Under the budget, seed cotton is eligible for the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program at a reference price of 36.7 cents per pound. The 2018 crop is eligible for PLC, but payments to growers will not go out until October 2019.
Revisions to the Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers include calculating payments monthly as opposed to current bimonthly payments. Premiums for small and medium-size farms are eliminated on $4.50 and $5 coverage levels and are sharply reduced at all higher levels.
The bill passed 240-186 in the House. In Alabama’s Congressional delegation, Reps. Robert Aderholt, Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mike Rogers and Terri Sewell voted in favor. Reps. Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer were opposed.
In the Senate, the bill passed 71-28. Sens. Richard Shelby and Doug Jones of Alabama voted for passage.
Other budget provisions include:
- $2.4 billion in aid to farmers impacted by 2017 hurricanes;
- Lifting the $125,000-per-producer payment cap under the Livestock Indemnity Program;
- Doubling payment acreage for the Tree Assistance Program;
- Retroactively reviving for 2017 the $1-a-gallon tax credit incentive program for biodiesel; and
- $20 billion for infrastructure projects.