Groups Respond to Farm Bill Signing

Dan Farm Bill, Industry News Release, Legislative

farm bill

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue celebrated President Trump’s signing of the 2018 Farm Bill and issued the following statement:   

“This is a great day for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, as President Trump’s signature on this bill is a Christmas present to American agriculture.  Farmers take financial risks every year as a matter of doing business, so having a Farm Bill in place gives them peace of mind to make their decisions for the future.  Since early talks on this Farm Bill began back in 2017, I’ve always believed it would be more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, and that has borne out to be true.

“The bill bolsters farm safety net programs, protects federal crop insurance, and maintains strong rural development and research initiatives. The legislation reinvents the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers, providing a boost to coverage levels and a reduction in premiums after the program fell short in the 2014 Farm Bill.  The bill also includes a new Animal Disease Prevention and Management program, providing annual funding for three animal health programs.  This includes a new vaccine bank focused on foot-and-mouth disease and extended funding of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network to protect our borders and improve food safety.

“While we would have liked more progress on forest management reforms and work requirements for certain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients, we look forward to using our authorities to make improvements in those areas.  All told, this is a Farm Bill that should be welcomed by producers, and at USDA we will eagerly implement its provisions.  At USDA, we were pleased to provide a tremendous amount of technical assistance to Congress as legislators wrote the bill.  I thank the President for his leadership on this legislation, and commend the Senate and House Agriculture Committees for their many months of hard work.” 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway

President Trump signed H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill) into law. After the signing, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the following remarks:

“With President Trump signing the farm bill today, America keeps faith with those hard-working farm and ranch families who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs. Because of the support of the president, Sec. Perdue and a Republican Congress, we were able to deliver a new farm bill in the same year that the legislation was first introduced, which marks a first in nearly 30 years. I’m proud of this bill and I’m honored to have served as chairman throughout this process. I’m thankful to all those who worked to help make today’s enactment of the farm bill possible.”

American Farm Bureau Federation

The following may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“The Agriculture Improvement Act—H.R. 2—is now law. Enactment means risk management tools, foreign market development and environmental stewardship programs continue to be available, and on terms that reflect a much tougher farm economy than the one we faced when the last farm bill became law.

“The farm bill helps to ensure the food security and economic security of our nation. Directly or indirectly, it benefits everyone in towns large and small. This farm bill:

  • Brings another five years of certainty to farm and ranch families;
  • Upholds fiscal responsibility by being budget neutral;
  • Improves risk management programs;
  • Protects crop insurance;
  • Funds much-needed trade development;
  • Invests in the future with funding for ag research and beginning farmer programs; and
  • Continues nutrition assistance (three-quarters of total farm bill funding) for lower-income Americans.

“We are grateful to President Trump for his support. We also thank Chairmen Roberts and Conaway and Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson for producing legislation that passed with strong, bi-partisan support. We look forward to working with Agriculture Secretary Perdue as he and his team at USDA implement this law and put new program provisions in place quickly.”

National Crop Insurance Services

President Donald Trump today officially signed the 2018 Farm Bill, making the five-year bill a law. 

The American Association of Crop Insurers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and National Crop Insurance Services issued the following joint statement in response:

It’s been a difficult year for farmers and ranchers from coast to coast, but rural America is ending 2018 on a high note with this farm bill. The new law keeps crop insurance affordable and widely available for agriculture, and it provides much-needed certainty heading into 2019.

President Trump and Secretary Sonny Perdue have been vocal supporters of agriculture, and they helped deliver in a big way for farmers and ranchers with this new law. Likewise, congressional leaders from both parties should be commended for their dedication in passing a bipartisan bill that provides the tools farmers need to manage their unique risks.

Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Congressmen Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) worked tirelessly throughout this farm bill process to make U.S. agriculture stronger. On behalf of the entire crop insurance industry and the customers we serve, thank you.

Crop insurance, which is delivered by the private sector, has become a key component of U.S. farm policy. Each year, farmers spend between $3.5 and $4 billion to purchase protection on the crops they grow, ensuring taxpayers are not shouldering all the risk. When disaster strikes, insurance aid is distributed quickly to help farmers pick up the pieces and plant again.

This year, 1.1 million crop insurance policies provided $106 billion in protection on more than 130 types of crops covering 311 million acres.

Efforts by farm policy critics to weaken agriculture’s primary risk management tool were soundly rejected by lawmakers, who heeded farmers’ advice to “do no harm to crop insurance.”

Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA), representing over 120 specialty crop organizations across the United States, released the following statement after H.R. 2 (115), the Farm Bill, was signed into law by President Trump during in the final Congressional session of 2018:

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance applauds the efforts of the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in passing the Farm Bill. The programs included in the Farm Bill play a critical role in the success and advancement of the specialty crop industry, and the Alliance is pleased this bipartisan legislation has been signed into law by the President before the end of the year.

The Alliance recognizes its three co-chairs: John Keeling, executive president and CEO of the National Potato Council, Mike Stuart, chief executive officer of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, and Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers Association, for their leadership and commitment to the specialty crop industry.

The Alliance also thanks House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for their leadership in getting the Farm Bill through both chambers of Congress. Finally, the Alliance expresses gratitude to U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and the Farm Bill conference committee members for their bipartisan efforts to submit a final conference report.

The following programs and funding included in the 2018 Farm Bill will bolster and strengthen the specialty crop industry over the next five years:

  • Enhanced funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), allowing all specialty crops to compete for the full $80 million annually for the SCRI program
  • An annual trust fund of $25 million annually to maintain resources for the citrus industry for combating citrus greening
  • Full $9 million annual funding of the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program, which encourages reduction of bureaucratic impediments to make the program more efficient in overcoming trade barriers
  • Continued support for programs that combat invasive pests and diseases at $75 million annually, with the goal of enhancing its funding in five years by $7.5 million to fund the National Clean Plant Network
  • Increased Food Insecurity Nutrition Initiative (FINI) funding levels and continued support for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Continued strong funding of Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG)
  • Improved access to foreign markets through increased funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) of at least $200 million annually
  • Strong language in SCRI, AFRI and the newly created AGARDA program focusing on mechanization as a priority
  • Reforms to the National Organic Program (NOP) operation

“We are grateful to see such consistent, strong support of specialty crops in the Farm Bill. The bipartisan support of lawmakers in Congress is appreciated by the entire industry,” said John Keeling, executive president and CEO of the National Potato Council. “The programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill will help specialty crops compete in a global marketplace, develop research tools that improve the cultivation process, and contribute to a healthier America.”

“The passage of H.R. 2 is critically important to our producers and stakeholders,” said Mike Stuart, CEO of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “This bill is going to strengthen our industry by enhancing nutrition programs, continuing to support Specialty Crop Block Grants, combating invasive pest and diseases, supporting trade programs, and providing funding for research.”

“Specialty crops represent approximately $70 billion in farm receipts annually, impacting large and small, rural and urban communities – and the entire specialty crops industry relies on the certainty and support that only a five-year Farm Bill can provide,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers Association. “We are pleased the President recognizes the importance of the Farm Bill to agriculture and the value of the specialty crop industry in the United States.”

National Corn Growers Association

President Donald Trump today signed the 2018 Farm Bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) into law with NCGA President Lynn Chrisp and Chairman Kevin Skunes in attendance. Today’s action follows last week’s overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill in both the House and Senate.

“NCGA is very pleased that our farmers will be able to look forward to a new year with the certainty of a new farm bill. Between depressed commodity prices, record low farm incomes and tariffs and trade uncertainty, today’s signing is very welcome news.”

NCGA’s members took an active role in the 2018 Farm Bill’s development, ensuring organization priorities like continued support for crop insurance and improvements to the ARC-CO program, were included in the final legislation. Members visited with their representatives and sent emails and made phone calls to Capitol Hill offices stressing the importance of getting a new farm bill signed into law this year.

Chrisp thanked NCGA members for their efforts, especially during busy planting and harvest seasons, to get the bill across the finish line. He also thanked Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, as well as President Trump and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for their support for American agriculture.

American Sugar Alliance

The holidays got a little happier for farmers and ranchers today as President Donald Trump officially signed the 2018 Farm Bill, and with it, extended U.S. sugar policy for another five years.

“U.S. agriculture’s future is brighter thanks to the hard work and support of President Trump, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Chairmen Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Mike Conaway (R-TX), and Ranking Members Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Collin Peterson (D-MN),” said American Sugar Alliance Chairman Ryan Weston. “On behalf of America’s sugar industry, thank you.”

Sugar producers have been vocal supporters of the new Farm Bill, which they say will help rural America cope with slumping commodity prices and extreme weather.

“No matter what you grow or where you grow it, you’ve been struggling this year,” said Rick Gerstenberger, a Michigan farmer who grows sugarbeets, corn, soybeans and wheat. “This bill gives us the ability to make long-term plans and gives our lenders the confidence they need to extend the capital necessary to cash-flow our farms.”

Gerstenberger, who serves as president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, was one of numerous growers who flew to Washington, DC, on several occasions in 2018 to meet with Congress.

Charles Guidry, a Louisiana sugarcane farmer, also spent a lot of time walking the halls of Capitol Hill this year and educating members and staff.

“Sugar is very important in my community. It creates a lot of jobs,” he noted. “I wanted to get that message to Congress, so they knew that a strong sugar policy protects family farms and good local jobs.”

Lawmakers heard the message loud and clear. And when opponents of farm policy tried to dismantle U.S. sugar policy in favor of subsidized foreign imports, the U.S. House of Representatives dealt them a decisive defeat by a bipartisan 141-vote margin.

Supporting America’s 142,000 sugar jobs became a reoccurring theme throughout the debate, and many of those jobs were spotlighted as part of a new industry campaign called Faces of Sugar Policy

“Don’t cut my family out of the Farm Bill” was the campaign’s rallying cry.

It was a message that Cornelius Fowler, a member of the IAM Florida Sugar Workers Union, was all too happy to deliver. Without sugar policy, we have “no land, no future, no job, no home,” Fowler explained.

Sugar policy in the new Farm Bill is similar to the successful policy of the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills. It keeps unneeded subsidized foreign sugar from flooding the market and provides producers with loans that are repaid with interest, thus operating without taxpayer cost. In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill provides loan rate increases to more than a dozen commodities, including sugar, to help ease the mounting economic pressures.

The industry’s attention will now turn to implementing the new law and protecting it from future attacks.

National Milk Producers Federation

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked President Donald Trump for signing a farm bill that enacts necessary reforms for dairy farmers. The organization looks forward to working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to quickly implement several new programs.

With NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney in attendance, Trump praised the hard work of American farmers and noted Congress’s efforts to assist them. Dairy has been noted as a big winner in the bill, with new programs that assist dairy producers facing low prices. Important policy reforms include:

  • Much more affordable and higher coverage levels in the new Dairy Margin Coverage program (DMC) (renamed from the Margin Protection Program) that will allow all dairy producers to insure margins up to $9.50/cwt. on their Tier I (first 5 million pounds) production history
  • Lower-cost $5.00 margin coverage, allowing farm operations wishing to cover more than 5 million pounds of production to have a higher level of affordable catastrophic protection
  • Expanded access to additional risk management tools, which allows producers to participate in the DMC along with options including the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program and the new Dairy Revenue Protection program.

“By signing the farm bill, the president has acknowledged the problems dairy producers face and has put his stamp on improving their circumstances,” said Mooney, who operates Mooney Dairy in Rogersville, Missouri, with his wife Jan. “That only increases momentum for USDA to put these programs in effect quickly, assisting producers in a time of need.”

USDA earlier this week highlighted implementation of the dairy programs as an early priority. Once USDA draws up rules to administer its initiatives, producers will sign up for their coverage retroactive to Jan. 1.

NMPF again thanked Reps. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), the chairman and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, as well as Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, for their work on reaching a final agreement.

American Soybean Association

The American Soybean Association (ASA) applauds President Trump and Members of the House and Senate for quickly finalizing the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.” ASA leaders Davie Stephens, president and Kentucky soy grower, and John Heisdorffer, chairman and grower from Iowa, were among those attending the farm bill signing ceremony Thursday afternoon at the White House.

“This is a success for agriculture to have this legislation passed before the end of the year,” said Stephens. “We appreciate the level of assurance the bill provides and will now be able to better focus on working with the Administration and Congress on other issues affecting the competitiveness and profitability of U.S. beans.”

ASA is pleased with provisions in the bill that maintain the ARC and PLC program; a strong crop insurance program; funding for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and Market Access Program (MAP) within the Agriculture Trade and Facilitation Program; baseline funding of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP); acreage limit increases for the Conservation Research Program (CRP); continued authorization for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and support of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) consensus report data; and enactment of the Ag Connectivity Provision that expands rural broadband connections, including mobile coverage.