DRAFT FARM BILL RELEASED
The House Agriculture Committee released their first draft of the next Farm Bill last week and, most importantly, they did what you asked: the crop insurance title appears intact.
According to the House Ag Committee’s Farm Bill website, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 mostly leaves crop insurance alone. “At the request of virtually every farmer, rural banker and rural business in the country, the farm bill protects crop insurance. Some improvements are made but, overall, the farm bill doesn’t fix what isn’t broken.”
Bigger changes were made in the nutrition program portion of the bill. The goal was not to cut programs and save money, but rather to truly help those that need help getting back on their feet. Over 35 improvements were made to this section of the bill, most notably, strengthening existing work requirements and requiring participants participate in an Employment and Training program to be eligible for nutrition assistance.
This draft version of the next farm bill does not increase funding for Market Access Programs and Foreign Market Development Programs but does maintain funding, which was difficult given declining available funds.
“During the June 2017 CBO baseline update, baseline for FMD ($34.5 million per year) and TASC ($9 million per year) was permanently eliminated. As a result, simply restoring past levels of funding for FMD and TASC was our top priority (and a huge challenge). The modest increase in overall funding levels further highlights the Committee’s recognition of the importance of these programs,” reported on the House Ag Committee’s Farm Bill website.
A big win for the livestock community, the bill also establishes a new U.S.-only vaccine bank with priority for stockpiling Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine.
Again, this bill is only a draft and will require significant editing, compromise, and change to pass both chambers of Congress; however, understanding the House Ag Committee’s vision for the future of farm and nutrition policy is important for farmers who face an uncertain future in 2018.
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