It looks like the nation’s farmers and ranchers will receive the certainty of a full, five-year farm bill for Christmas. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the farm, nutrition and conservation legislation in a 369-47 vote Wednesday afternoon.
“Crafting a bill of this magnitude and importance isn’t an easy task. We truly appreciate the hundreds of hours the farm bill conference committee, ag committees and their staff put in to ensure the nation’s farmers and ranchers have the safety net they need to continue feeding and clothing the world,” Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) President Russell Boening said. “Without it, surviving Mother Nature’s hardships, tense trade relationships and low commodity prices would be very difficult, if not impossible, for many growers.”
Approval of the farm bill moved quickly after the farm bill conference committee released its conference report Monday evening.
The U.S. Senate passed the conference report in an 87-13 vote Tuesday afternoon.
“This legislation includes critical changes that allow farmers to have more control over the safety net that provides a helping hand—not a hand out—when times get tough. It doesn’t make farmers whole, but it can mean the difference between staying in business and having to leave agriculture altogether,” Boening, a Wilson County farmer, rancher and dairyman, said.
The 2018 Farm Bill allows farmers to choose between the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs on a crop-by-crop and year-by-year basis with the exception of the first two years of the legislation. The 2019 decision will also be applied to 2020.
“The farm bill also funds conservation programs that allow landowners to protect some of our nation’s most precious natural resources and sensitive areas. Congress also included permanent funding for programs that promote farmers markets and train beginning and veteran farmers,” Boening said.
The legislation permanently funds programs that do the following: promote farmers markets, research challenges facing organic farmers, train young or beginning farmers and aids veteran or minority farmers.
The Conservation Stewardship Program is maintained through the bill.
The farm bill increases individual Farm Service Agency loan limits, which have not been updated in 16 years.
Funding for agricultural research, expanding high quality broadband service in rural areas and strengthening the U.S.’ animal disease prevention and management efforts is also increased in the legislation.