Washington- The race is on to pass the 2018 Farm Bill and with mixed-support and it's not going to be easy.
House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway R-Texas says despite a divided House of Representatives all he cares about is getting 218 votes to get it passed.
“Its a work in progress and will be offered to the House Agriculture Committee for amendments on April 18 and should clear the committee by the end of the week," he told reporters.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said 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 National Potato Council says they're on board.
“We appreciate chairman Conaway’s action today to initiate the formal 2018 Farm Bill process,” John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council said in a press release. “The potato industry looks forward to working with the committee, the full House of Representatives and their Senate counterparts in delivering a strong bill to the president’s desk before September 30.”
President Duvall says the nation's Ag economy need to do better than just break-even year after year.
“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.”
According to a list of highlights provided by Conaway’s office and excerpts from the bill’s language, the legislation would:
- Change the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to include canned dried, frozen, or pureed in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables;
- Restores funding for Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops under the new International Market Development Program;
- The International Market Development Program is a consolidation of the current Market Access Program, the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program, the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program, and the E. (Kika) De La Garza Emerging Markets Program;
- Seeks to expand and improve crop insurance policies for specialty crops;
- Makes improvements to the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, while maintaining funding; and
- Increases funding for the Organic Agriculture Research & Extension Initiate and provides resources for combating fraudulent imports of organic products coming into the U.S.