The following statement on today’s release of the 2018 Farm Bill by the House Agriculture Committee may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:
“Today’s release by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) assures America’s farmers and ranchers that congressional agriculture leaders recognize the economic challenges our producers face.
“Farm Bureau is pleased to see meaningful adjustments to the current farm bill’s provisions for dairy and the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, as well as new provisions for cotton farmers included in the commodity title. We also appreciate improvements proposed for federal crop insurance. There are additional provisions aimed at improving conservation programs, the specialty crops program and research and rural development programs that will benefit our members across the nation.
“The House Agriculture Committee’s proposed 2018 farm bill shows the committee is aware of a farm economy teetering on a knife’s edge. The legislation released today will assist farmers and ranchers battered by commodity prices that often do not cover the costs of production. This is one step to bring certainty to our farmers when we face challenges from many different directions. There are still details to be worked out, and we stand ready to work closely with leadership and members of the committee to move forward. We urge Congress to complete a new farm bill soon that promotes food security, a strong farm economy and the thousands of jobs that are supported by America’s agricultural productivity.”
Crop insurance and commodity programs were preserved and changes were recommended for conservation and nutrition in the proposed farm bill unveiled today by U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas.
Alabama Farmers Federation National Affairs Director Mitt Walker said the legislation is the starting point for what could be a lengthy process for reauthorizing U.S. farm policy.
“While this first draft is likely to change significantly before final approval, Alabama farmers are encouraged with key provisions of the bill,” Walker said. “The House proposal continues the cotton program included in this year’s appropriations bill. It also provides an opportunity for commodity reference prices to increase with world markets. The bill consolidates conservation programs and increases accountability in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”
The House Agriculture Committee is expected to consider the legislation next week. Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, serves on the committee. Walker said the Federation’s Farm Bill Committee will continue to monitor the five-year package as it makes its way through Congress. Walker is also working closely with American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) staff to ensure the interests of Southeastern agriculture are addressed.
Highlights of the proposed Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 include:
- Reauthorizes and strengthens the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) options through 2023. Farmers choosing the PLC option could benefit from a new provision allowing reference prices to adjust upward by up to 115 percent as the market improves. Farmers choosing ARC option will have the opportunity to use yields collected by the Risk Management Agency.
- Maintains a separate payment limitation for the peanut program.
- Preserves existing crop insurance programs.
- Increases funding for EQIP to $3 billion per year over the life of the farm bill, incorporating the best features of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
- Gradually increases Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage to 29 million acres over the life of the farm bill while capping rental rates.
- Provides $100 million toward a pilot program to address feral swine.
- Increases funding for SNAP Employment & Training from $90 million to $1 billion over three years and increases work requirements for SNAP recipients.
- Provides incentives for providers to offer broadband service to rural America.
The estimated cost of the proposed legislation is $860 billion over 10 years— about $100 billion less than the initial price tag of the 2014 farm bill.
The American Soybean Association (ASA) responded this afternoon to the introduction of the chairman’s mark of the farm bill from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway of Texas. ASA President John Heisdorffer issued the following statement:
“We commend Chairman Conaway for moving the farm bill process forward with the introduction of the chairman’s mark today. We recognize this process has many stages, and while this version lacks support from Democrats, we hope that the chairman will continue to work to negotiate to get the needed support to pass a bill that can conference with the Senate and become law in 2018.
“We need to get this farm bill done this year to provide long-term certainty for farmers, given lingering questions on trade and the shaky state of the farm economy.
“We also appreciate the chairman for including authorization for the Foreign Market Development program, as well as funding for FMD and the Market Access Program. ASA will continue to press for the doubled funding we originally requested for these programs, which farmers across the country leverage to expand our overseas markets.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement in response to the release of the 2018 Farm Bill text in the U.S. House of Representatives:
”We’re pleased to see the House Agriculture Committee’s language for the 2018 Farm Bill. and we’re ready to see the bill move forward.
“We appreciate the Committee authorizing the Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, which is vitally important to the safety of our industry. However, we were hopeful for full funding levels, which this bill does not provide in years two through five. We’ll continue fighting to secure that funding through all possible avenues.
“We’re also happy to see the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) bolstered in this bill, as well as funding for research, foreign market development, and market access programs.
“We will continue to work with the Committee to get this bill onto the House floor as quickly as possible.”
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway today released the heavily anticipated text of a new Farm Bill.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson thanked the committee for their work to put together a farm bill and encouraged Congress to work together in a bipartisan fashion to advance a stronger farm bill for family farmers in 2018. Johnson issued the following statement in response to the release:
“Farmers Union appreciates the hard work of the House Agriculture Committee over the past couple years to develop a farm bill that works to improve the lives of all Americans.
“Farm income stands at just half of what it was when the last farm bill was written, leaving thousands of farm families struggling financially. Under current conditions and with the programs we have in place, we’re losing farmers. Family farmers and ranchers simply need more resources.
“Yet congressional leadership has severely hamstrung the committee’s ability to address the six-year, 50 percent decline in the farm economy. While they’ve shown little regard for spending and deficits this Congress, they’ve failed to provide adequate resources for food and agriculture at a time of grave financial strain on family farmers and ranchers. This is irresponsible and harmful.
“Family farmers deserve to be a priority. They deserve to have a safety net that addresses current economic conditions. They deserve strong programs that help them improve the long-term sustainability of their farms. And they deserve access to fair and diverse markets. The final version of this farm bill must reflect the growing challenges family farmers face.”
The National Pork Producers Council hailed the House Committee on Agriculture’s inclusion in its 2018 Farm Bill of language establishing and funding a vaccine bank to combat an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD).
FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep; it is not a food safety or human health threat. Although the disease was last detected in the United States in 1929, it is endemic in many parts of the world.
“This is a great first step for the livestock industry,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, and chairman of NPPC’s Farm Bill Policy Task Force. “Right now, we’re ill-prepared to deal with an FMD outbreak, which would be devastating for pork producers and other sectors of agriculture.”
The agriculture panel’s Farm Bill calls for first-year mandatory funding of $150 million for the vaccine bank, $70 million in block grants to the states for disease prevention and $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which provides diagnostic support to assist in managing diseases in the United States. For the other years of the 5-year Farm Bill, there’s $30 million in mandatory funding for state block grants and $20 million to be used at the Agriculture secretary’s discretion for the vaccine bank, the NAHLN and the states.
NPPC is urging lawmakers to provide annual funding of $150 million for the vaccine bank, $70 million for state block grants and $30 million for the NAHLN over the life of the Farm Bill.
Currently, the United States does not have access to enough FMD vaccine to handle more than a very small, localized outbreak. According to Iowa State University economists, an FMD outbreak in the United States, which would prompt countries to close their markets to U.S. meat exports – thus creating a surplus of meat on the domestic market – would cost the beef and pork industries a combined $128 billion over 10 years if livestock producers weren’t able to combat the disease through vaccination. The corn and soybean industries would lose over a decade $44 billion and $25 billion, respectively; and economy-wide job losses would top 1.5 million.
“These costs can only be mitigated if the U.S. can mount a swift and robust response once FMD is detected,” Heimerl said. “Including FMD language in the House Farm Bill is a huge first step in addressing this gap in our disease prevention preparedness. We are very grateful to the House Agriculture Committee for its efforts on this very important issue for livestock agriculture.”
The House bill also includes funding for the NPPC-supported Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, both of which help support exports markets for U.S. goods. The programs are consolidated as the International Market Development Program.