Saturday, 24 August, 2019

House Farm Bill introduced

House Agriculture Committee leaders including chairman Mike Conaway, a Republican from Texas discuss their first draft of the 2018 farm bill in Washington D.C House Farm Bill introduced
Patty Aguilar | 19 April, 2018, 01:00

The biggest concerns of the bill are changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill this week, as Congress proceeds to update federal agricultural and nutrition policy.

The proposed 2018 farm bill is unlikely to provide producer relief from tariff retaliation from China or others-the money's just not there. The bill would retain the Whole Farm Revenue Program as a pilot program, as CFBF requested.

But studies show that the SNAP recipients who can work do in fact work. That means those programs will be at the mercy of the volatile annual appropriations process and could be eliminated altogether. At a time when farmers are dealing with unpredictable weather patterns that exacerbate the inherent risk of farming, this is foolish and short-sighted. About 90 percent of the spending cuts would come from the nutrition program.

However, he is concerned about the lack of bi-partisan support for the measure from the House Ag Committee moving forward.

There are a few glimmers of hope in the farm bill draft.

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NYFC has praised the preservation of mandatory funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Transition Incentives Program, and Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (also known as the 2501 Program) even as they continue to call for increased investments in those programs. A new Food Waste and Recovery Liaison position would be established at the USDA. And organic research would receive more, although not sufficient, funding.

This farm bill has a long road ahead. Traditionally, agriculture committee Democrats have offset some of those no votes to get a farm bill across the finish line and have been able to champion a bipartisan approach in an increasingly partisan world on Capitol Hill.

The health emergency provision in the House farm bill would require the Ag secretary to specify the nature of the emergency for rural Americans and "identify the services and treatments which can be used to reduce those effects".

Our communities deserve a better farm bill-one that helps to alleviate hunger, promotes growing agricultural markets, and encourages environmental stewardship.

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