2018 Farm Bill passes on bipartisan votes in House and SenateRhea Gonzales December 27, 2018 0 COMMENTS
BY GAIL M. WILLIAMS
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent
Both the House and the Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill on Wednesday, Dec. 12, with overwhelming bipartisan support. The Senate passed the bill by an 87-13 vote, and the House passed it by a 369-47 vote.
The bill now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature, which is expected to happen sometime this week.
The office of District 19 Representative Jodey Arrington who served on the Farm Bill conference committee describes the Farm Bill as a “home run” for the agricultural community. Arrington was responsible for two amendments that made their way into the bill.
The bill is expected to benefit Muleshoe farmers and ranchers along with those throughout the country in many ways.
“The 2018 Farm Bill conference report includes keys wins for American farmers and ranchers, rural communities, and consumers – all within a budget‐neutral framework,” said Alex Attebery, press secretary for Arrington. “The conference report strengthens the farm safety net and provides certainty and flexibility to America’s farmers and ranchers. It helps combat the predatory trading practices of foreign countries. It helps improve our response to natural disasters, and it restructures critical incentives to improve our soil, water and other natural resources. The conference report also makes improvements to the nation’s largest anti‐hunger program (SNAP) to improve program integrity.”
Formerly known as the Food Stamp program, SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Attebery continued, “The conference report invests in the heath, infrastructure and economic development projects needed to meet the current challenges in rural America. It provides new tools for USDA to help meet the opioid and mental health crises roiling our communities. It redoubles the federal commitment to providing broadband access to every rural American. It provides many rural communities new access to the credit they need to make long‐term infrastructure investments. Finally, it promotes cooperative, regional economic development.”
The Farm Bill also keeps the agriculture safety net in place.
“Economic conditions facing farm country are undeniably bleak,” Attebery said. “USDA recently announced net farm income is projected to drop 12 percent in 2018, falling to levels not experienced since 2002 when adjusted for inflation. Title I of the conference report exists to aid producers struggling with poor market conditions and the countless other challenges impacting their operations each day. Passage of the conference report will provide certainty that an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill could not. The agreement reauthorizes and strengthens the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) options through 2023, improves the dairy safety net, continues standing disaster programs, and includes several common‐sense improvements to U.S. farm policy.”
According to Jodey Arrington’s website, the bill includes cotton under the list of Title 1 safety nets, and maintains such commodities as the price loss coverage and agriculture risk coverage, the marketing loan and the livestock disaster programs.
Attebery said the bill’s support for broadband access brings rural areas into the 21st century when it comes to keeping up with their suburban and urban counterparts by expanding rural access to capital, simplifying lending programs, incentivizing a broad coalition of stakeholders and incentivizing developments.
“Healthcare is opening up with critical access to hospitals, including mental health and opioid elements,” Attebery said. “The bill addresses farm and ranch stress. There is a 33 percent increase in distance and telemedicine for rural hospitals.
“It’s a good piece of legislation, a home run for farmers, ranchers and rural America in general,” he concluded.