Get a 2018 Farm Bill overview in under two minutes. Scroll down to read more.
By: Kurt Fuchs, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
The 2018 Farm Bill was passed by Congress on December 12 and signed into law by President Trump on December 20, the culmination of nearly two years of committee hearings, informational briefings, listening sessions, and field hearings held in Washington, DC and across the country.
It passed in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion first in the Senate by a vote of 87-13 on December 11, and the following day in the House by a vote of 369-47, in contrast to what could be considered up to that point an uncharacteristically partisan Farm Bill process.
As you can imagine, farmers and ranchers across the country were relieved to head into the end-of-year holiday season knowing there’s a new five year Farm Bill in place that is, to paraphrase Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Pat Roberts (R– Kan.), evolutionary rather than revolutionary in its provisions.
Although the vast majority of the bill’s $867 billion price tag is attributable to nutrition spending, this sweeping legislation is better known in farm country for setting national agriculture, conservation, and forestry policy. Within its 12 subject titles, the Farm Bill covers everything from commodity programs and international trade to rural infrastructure and risk management and from environmental conservation and energy to agricultural credit and nutrition.
Essential to producers of all types, the bill maintains a strong and effective federal crop insurance program. Crop insurance agents across the country are most likely still addressing claims for this year’s crops as weather and markets hampered farmers’ efforts throughout the country (certainly here in the MidAtlantic region).
In recognition of the increasing capital and credit requirements of modern production agriculture, the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Guaranteed Loan program caps were raised from $1.39 million to $1.75 million and indexed for inflation. This program is an especially effective tool at helping young and beginning farmers get their operations established.
With dairy producers across the country continuing to struggle, Farm Bill negotiators built upon the changes made to the Dairy Margin Protection program in the fiscal 2018 spending package enacted earlier this year and made it cheaper for smaller operations to purchase higher coverage levels. The newly minted Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program makes payments to producers when the difference between the price of milk and feed drops below margins that farmers insure.
The above summary is just a snapshot of the 2018 Farm Bill’s many provisions. A more in-depth summary of all 12 titles can be found here.
With depressed commodity markets, challenging weather in many parts of the country throughout the growing season, and significant overseas markets disrupted by ongoing trade disputes, American farmers and ranchers are no doubt ready to close the book on 2018. Hopefully, having this foundational piece of legislation in place going into 2019 will help make next year’s growing season just a bit easier to tackle.
If you have any questions about the Farm Bill, or would like more information on what its contents mean for you and your operation, please give us a call at 888.339.3334.
Happy New Year, and here’s to a safe and productive 2019!