Ag Policy Blog

Different Takes from Farm Groups on Farm Bill Introduction

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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There'sseldom time for reaction and responses in the Trump era. Thursday's focus began on the rollout of the 2018 farm bill. That didn't last long.

The day got blurred quickly after President Trump brought in Republican congressmen, senators and governors from Midwest states as a way to stem complaints in rural America about tariffs and EPA treatment of the RFS. By the time the meeting ended, the White House was looking at getting back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership and allowing 15% ethanol blends year-round.

And then the day got a little busy.

Coming back around, here are some varying views on the rollout of the 2018 farm bill from various agricultural groups and one environmental organization.

American Farm Bureau Federation: “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," said Zippy Duvall, president of AFBF.

“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

National Farmers Union: “Farm income stands at just half of what it was when the last farm bill was written, leaving thousands of farm families struggling financially. Under current conditions and with the programs we have in place, we’re losing farmers. Family farmers and ranchers simply need more resources," said Roger Johnson, president of NFU.

“Yet congressional leadership has severely hamstrung the committee’s ability to address the six-year, 50 percent decline in the farm economy. While they’ve shown little regard for spending and deficits this Congress, they’ve failed to provide adequate resources for food and agriculture at a time of grave financial strain on family farmers and ranchers. This is irresponsible and harmful.

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“Family farmers deserve to be a priority. They deserve to have a safety net that addresses current economic conditions. They deserve strong programs that help them improve the long-term sustainability of their farms. And they deserve access to fair and diverse markets. The final version of this farm bill must reflect the growing challenges family farmers face.”

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: At a price tag of well over $800 billion dollars, the farm bill wouldn’t be considered by many to be a lean legislative package. There are, however, nearly a dozen programs in the bill that are increasingly becoming known as the “tiny but mighty” – programs that receive relatively small funding allocations but have historically provided outsize benefits for American family farmers and food producing communities.

While (NSAC) is very pleased to see that a few of these programs made it through the gauntlet unscathed – and two even received well-deserved funding increases – we are stunned that the Chairman would choose to completely gut six of these critical and extremely effective programs:

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program

National Organic Cost Share Program

Risk Management Education Partnership Program

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

Rural Energy for America Program

Value-Added Producer Grants

National Association of State Directors of Agriculture: “In this time of uncertainty and low prices in our country’s agriculture sector, we are encouraged that Congress is taking important first steps towards reauthorizing the Farm Bill. An on-time and fully funded Farm Bill is more important than ever for agriculture producers, the rural economy, and communities of every size,” said Steven Reviczky, president of NASDA and agriculture commissioner for Connecticut.

“We are especially appreciative for the committee's work on a host of NASDA priorities including the establishment of a new animal health initiative and improvements to existing programs such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. We are committed to continuing our work with agriculture leaders in the House and Senate to get a bipartisan Farm Bill across the finish line

National Cattlemen's Beef Association: "We appreciate the Committee authorizing the Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, which is vitally important to the safety of our industry. However, we were hopeful for full funding levels, which this bill does not provide in years two through five. We'll continue fighting to secure that funding through all possible avenues," said Kevin Kester, president of NCBA.

"We're also happy to see the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) bolstered in this bill, as well as funding for research, foreign market development, and market access programs.

Environmental Working Group: “Every farm bill is an opportunity to meet some of America’s biggest challenges, such as reducing hunger, promoting healthy diets, supporting family farmers and reducing farm pollution. But the 2018 House Farm Bill largely misses these opportunities. Instead it creates new barriers to anti-hunger assistance, fails to close farm subsidy loopholes and weakens important environmental safeguards," said Craig Coz, senior vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources at EWG.

“It does include several promising reforms in the conservation title that will help address the serious public health threat farm pollution poses. But these reforms are overshadowed by other provisions that increase hunger and roll back public health protections.”

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Followme on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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