WASHINGTON — Editor’s note: The following statements have been released in regards to the Senate passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the farm bill.
NFU Applauds Senate Farm Bill Passage
Presses for Additional Improvements During Conference Process
The U.S. Senate today voted 86-11 in favor of its bipartisan Farm Bill, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors unanimously supported the Senate’s efforts when the bill was first introduced. Rob Larew, NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications, echoed those sentiments:
“We are appreciative of the Senate’s work on this bill and are pleased by its passage. At a time of great financial stress, family farmers and ranchers are in need of some economic certainty. The Senate’s version of the Farm Bill includes encouraging provisions that strengthen the farm safety net, promote farm sustainability, and ensure access to fair and diverse markets, all of which would provide essential security.
“As the bill moves forward to conference, we look forward to working with Congressional leadership to make additional improvements and investments.”
American Farm Bureau: Senate Farm Bill Timely, Needed
The following statement regarding Senate passage of the 2018 Farm Bill was released by American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
“The Senate pushed the farm bill one big step closer to the finish line today and it could not have come at a better time. America’s farmers and ranchers continue to face a challenging agricultural economy, a shaky outlook for our export markets and a dire ag labor shortage. It was time for some good news and the Senate delivered it in bipartisan fashion.
“Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow worked with other members of the Senate Agriculture Committee to deliver a bill that will continue to provide the risk management tools that America’s farmers need more than ever before. And the fact that Leader McConnell agreed this should be a legislative priority helped move this very important bill forward in the Senate.
“Of course, no bill is ever perfect, but this bipartisan effort gives us a solid framework for progress. We do have concerns about some of the provisions that were added to the bill that make it harder for farmers to manage risk, but we are confident that those issues can be satisfactorily addressed by the House/Senate conference committee. We look forward to working with conferees from both houses to get the best possible farm bill done for rural America.”
Senate Farm Bill Paves the Way for Farmer-Forward Farm Bill
National Sustainable Agriculture praises bill, but laments lack of action on crop insurance reform
Upon passage today of the Senate farm bill, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) issued the following statement:
“We congratulate Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for the timely passage of H.R. 2, the Senate farm bill. The farm bill is the primary legislative vehicle for critical investments in the programs that support family farms, rural communities, conservation, and healthy food access. Given the immense importance of this legislation, it is imperative that Congress completes a new farm bill before the expiration of the 2014 bill on September 30 of this year. The Senate’s swift movement on their bill takes us closer to our goal of an on-time bill.
We are pleased that the Senate farm bill, in stark contrast to the House bill, aligns with many of the priorities of family farmers and sustainable food advocates. This bill, for example, contains important provisions to increase investments in farm-to-fork initiatives and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, and also makes much-needed policy improvements to federal conservation programs. We also commend Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for including Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) “Actively Engaged in Farming” amendment in the Senate substitute package. This is a critical first step toward ensuring more equitable commodity subsidy programs.
We are deeply disappointed, however, that Senate leadership made an 11th hour decision to block a widely supported, bipartisan amendment led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for the wealthiest farming operations. This modest reduction would apply to individuals making an adjusted gross income of more than $700,000 per year, and at least double that for married couples. In other words, the wealthiest individuals would be required to pay about half of their own insurance premiums rather than having the bulk of the premium paid for by the taxpayer. This amendment has passed the Senate during previous farm bill cycles and would have passed again, if given a chance.
The focus now turns to conference, where farmers and food advocates will be closely watching to see how the House and Senate reconcile the significant differences between their draft bills. This is true for the Nutrition Title, wherein the House bill attempts to run roughshod over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and would cause millions of American families to lose access to food assistance. Conversely the Senate bill would preserve food access for these families. It is true for the Horticulture Title – wherein the House bill eliminates key farm-to-fork investments while the Senate builds those programs up. It is true for the Conservation Title – wherein the House bill weakens conservation programs and eliminates USDA’s largest working lands conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program. And finally, this is true for the Commodity Title, to which the House bill adds layers of new subsidy loopholes for mega-farms, while the Senate wisely tightens payment eligibility rules.
For family farmers, sustainable agriculture advocates, and anti-hunger champions, there can be no compromise on many of these critical issues – the Senate farm bill model will be the only workable choice. There are, however, many less contentious differences on which compromise will certainly be possible. NSAC looks forward to working with the conferees and other Members of Congress to finalize a strong, family farmer-forward farm bill before the September 30 deadline.”
National Association of Wheat Growers Responds to Senate Passing its 2018 Farm Bill
Today, with a vote of 86-11, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill out of Chamber. In response, National Association of Wheat Growers President Jimmie Musick made the following statement:
“NAWG commends the Senate for working together in a bipartisan fashion to move the Farm Bill forward, out of the chamber and on to conference. It’s vital for a final Farm Bill to be reauthorized before the September 30th deadline, so that farmers can have certainty that a safety net and strong risk management tools will continue to be in place during these uncertain economic times in farm country.
“Crop insurance is a unique risk management tool available for farmers and ranchers. NAWG continues to advocate for a strong crop insurance program and continued choice between ARC and PLC in the final version of the bill.
“NAWG continues to support Farm Bill provisions that provide financial incentives for farmers to adopt conservation practices into their operations. We applaud reauthorization of both the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), as these programs both serve as important function in helping farmers to implement conservation techniques on operations across the country.
“NAWG is pleased that the legislation reauthorizes and funds the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program and will continue to advocate for increased resources for both. Additionally, we continue to support and encourage a strong research title and appreciate that the Senate bill authorizes increased funding for the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.
“NAWG calls for a speedy conference and for the conferees to be chosen quickly. We look forward to continuing to work with members in the House and Senate to advocate for wheat farmers as both versions of the Farm Bill go on to conference.”
NCGA Statement on Senate Passage of Farm Bill
North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), made the following statement on the Senate passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“Today’s vote is a welcome step to providing much-needed certainty for farmers facing increasingly challenging times.
“NCGA would like to thank Senate Republicans and Democrats for working together to get this bi-partisan bill passed and recognizing the importance and effectiveness of the farm bill’s risk management tools, including a robust federal crop insurance program.
“With the combined threat of retaliatory trade tariffs and an EPA seemingly intent on dismantling the RFS, farmers need a strong farm bill now more than ever. NCGA urges members of the House and Senate to come together quickly and find common ground to strengthen the farm safety net and adequately meet the needs of American consumers and our rural communities across our nation.”
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