By Michelle Bigelbach
The Courier 

Solutions and Relief Still Hot Topics for Farm Bill

 

August 8, 2018



In the evening hours of July 31, the U.S. Senate voted to move the farm bill to conference following in the footsteps of the U.S. House who agreed to do the same two weeks ago. The next step to get the Farm Bill passed is to reconcile the two different versions of the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated on July 31 he was hopeful the farm bill conference report would be ready for a vote after Labor Day. He also stated leaders of the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee are in touch despite the August recess on the House side. Both chambers’ bill versions would authorize and set policies for agricultural research, conservation, nutrition, crop insurance and other programs. The current farm bill is set to expire on Sept. 30.

One hot topic that still needs to be addressed in the final version is to provide solutions and relief to farmers who are affected by the global trade war. “Farmers are already enduring serious economic hardships due to a sharp drop in farm prices over the past five years, and the damage being inflicted to export markets is depressing these low prices even further,” National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson stated in a press release.


In a letter sent July 31 to congressional leadership from the National Farmers Union, Johnson emphasized the need to address agricultural economic hardships in the bill. In the letter, he specifically asked Congress to provide “substantive and long-term relief to farmers” by providing “agriculture committees with substantially greater resources.”

While the bill makes its way to being passed, strides have been made to help assist producers who are affected. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would allocate $12 billion in emergency assistance to producers most impacted by trade tensions. In a press release, Johnson expressed appreciation for the gesture, however stressed it was not enough, stating “Paying farmers small, one-time fixed payments is woefully inadequate to keep farmers in business.”

Farmers and farm advocates interested in advocating a strong farm bill are encouraged to visit 2018FarmBill.org to learn more about the farm bill and obtain information to contact members of Congress.

 

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