It’s here. The new 807-page farm bill hashed out over more than several months of negotiations was filed last night after being signed by conference members on both sides of the chamber. It’s now ready for final votes in both the House and Senate.
“Congratulations, we’re going to get a farm bill, right?” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., when Agri-Pulse caught up with him as he headed to vote last night. Thune said he hoped for a Senate vote this week, but “it’s just a question of how quickly things can get processed,” he said.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, told reporters last night a final House vote is likely to be Thursday. A Senate vote could slip until next week, although Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he was working to accelerate consideration of the measure.
Leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees expressed confidence that the final bill would pass both chambers.
For details on the bill on the changes it would make to conservation and commodity programs and other titles, read our story here.
Ag Committee comments
House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ranking Members Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) today released the text of the bipartisan, bicameral 2018 Farm Bill conference report.
“America’s farmers and ranchers are weathering the fifth year of severe recession, so passing a farm bill this week that strengthens the farm safety net is vitally important,” said Chairman Conaway. “I am grateful to the President, Secretary Perdue and my leadership for standing fast for the hard-working farm and ranch families that clothe and feed us. I also appreciate the members of the conference committee for bringing this process one step closer to completion.”
“The 2018 Farm Bill is our opportunity to make the American food and agriculture systems work more efficiently. I’m pleased to say we have done just that in this conference report,” said Chairman Roberts. “We started this journey nearly two years ago. Since then, the Senate Agriculture Committee has held dozens of hearings, listened to more than 90 witnesses, and received thousands of public comments.
“As promised, this farm bill provides much needed certainty and predictability for all producers – of all crops – across all regions across the country. I thank my counterparts in the Senate and House for coming to – and staying at – the table to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement for rural America.”
“This bill is a strong start to addressing the issues our producers are facing right now, particularly our dairy farmers,” said Ranking Member Peterson. “The bill’s new provisions will offer more flexible coverage for lower cost when dairy farmers need it most, and provide producers more tools to manage their risk. It also invests $300 million in the prevention and response for animal pests and disease. More broadly, the bill invests in research, outreach to beginning & underserved producers, local and organic food production, bioenergy, and access to new markets. It also addresses broadband, farm stress and mental health issues, and the opioid epidemic in rural areas. It’s the product of strong bipartisan work in both the House and the Senate, and it’s something I’m proud to encourage folks to vote for.”
“By working across the aisle, we overcame many differences to deliver a strong, bipartisan farm bill for our farmers, families, and rural communities,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “The 2018 Farm Bill is a good bill for our farmers and everyone who eats.
“Working together, we continued to expand the diversity of our agricultural economy, maintained a strong food and farm safety net, created new opportunities in our small towns and rural communities, and made significant investments in land and water conservation. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels – it’s time to get the bill across the finish line as soon as possible. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”
Perdue weighs in
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement regarding the release of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report:
“I welcome the introduction of the Farm Bill conference committee report, and hope the Congress can approve this legislation expeditiously. This legislation maintains a strong safety net for the farm economy, invests in critical agricultural research, and will promote agriculture exports through robust trade programs.
“While we would have liked to see more progress on work requirements for SNAP recipients and forest management reforms, the conference agreement does include several helpful provisions and we will continue to build upon these through our authorities.
“As farmers prepare to make decisions about next season, I commend the leadership of the conference committee in producing a bill that can be passed before the year’s end. If Congress passes this legislation I will encourage the President to sign it.”
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