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Senators Hail Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

December 12, 2018 by TWN Staff
Romaine lettuce grows with the Santa Lucia Mountains in the background in Salinas Valley, Calif., in 2014. (Ed Young/DPA/Zuma Press/TNS)

The 5-year Agriculture Improvement Act Passed with Overwhelming Bipartisan Support

In a Congress marked by gridlock, the 2018 Farm Bill passed yesterday with overwhelming bipartisan support. By a margin 87-13, Senators on both sides of the aisle hailed the bill as success and touted achievements in securing funding for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. The bill is expected to pass the House.

Notably, the bill rejected Republican attempts to slash food assistance programs, add dangerous work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, and gut conservation programs. It included a number of key measures supported by members on both sides, including hemp farming, dairy risk coverage, environmental quality incentives, and state rural development councils. A summary of the 2018 Farm Bill can be found here.

Here are some statements issued by Senators following the bill’s passage:

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS):

“The goal, the responsibility, the absolute requirement is to provide farmers, ranchers, growers and everyone within America’s agriculture and food value chain certainty and predictability during these very difficult times. This Farm Bill meets the needs of producers across all regions and all crops. And, it ensures that our voluntary conservation programs are keeping farm land in operation while protecting our agriculture lands, forests, and other natural resources. The bill focuses on program integrity and commonsense investments to strengthen our nutrition programs to ensure the long-term success of those in need of assistance. And, with trade and market uncertainty, to say the least, it provides certainty for our trade promotion and research programs. Feeding an increasing global population is not simply an agriculture challenge, it is a national security challenge. This means we need to grow more and raise more with fewer resources. That will take investments in research, new technology, lines of credit, and proper risk management.  It takes the government providing tools, and then getting out of the producer’s way. Organizations representing thousands of agriculture, food, nutrition, hunger, forestry, conservation, rural, business, faith-based, research, and academic interests have issued statements supporting the conference report. This is what happens when the Congress works in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion. This is a good bill that accomplishes what we set out to do – provide certainty and predictability for farmers, families, and rural communities. We have made tough choices, being judicious with the scarce resources we have on behalf of the taxpayer. This may not be the best possible bill. But, it is the best bill possible under these circumstances. And, importantly, it provides our farmers, ranchers and other rural stakeholders much needed certainty and predictability.”

Senate Agriculture Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI):

“The 2018 Farm Bill is a bipartisan victory that has Michigan on every page. This is a strong bill that will grow Michigan’s diverse agricultural economy and support our farmers, families, and rural communities. I’m pleased the Senate has moved forward with the bill and look forward to the House considering it soon.”

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

“Last year alone, Kentucky hemp recorded more than $16 million in product sales through the state pilot program I previously secured, demonstrating that hemp holds great potential for the future of Kentucky agriculture. My Hemp Farming Act as included in the Farm Bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight. In Kentucky, that means that Commissioner Ryan Quarles, another champion of hemp, will be able to help farmers thrive. When the Senate votes on this legislation in the coming days, we will also be voting to give farmers throughout the country the chance to tap into hemp’s potential and take part in its future.”

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT):

“After months of hard fought and often contentious negotiations, the Senate and House have come together and done what we rarely see in Washington these days.  We’ve resolved our differences and reached a compromise. This is a Farm Bill that will provide certainty to the nation’s struggling farmers; maintain food security for millions of American families; provide for cleaner waterways, better soils, protected open space, healthier forests, and the preservation of family farms; make our drinking water safer; and give communities across rural America a much needed economic boost

I thank Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow, and all of their staff, who have worked day and night on this bipartisan effort. I know from negotiating the 1990 Farm Bill as chairman that it is no easy task to balance the needs of various regions and commodities, and the sometimes conflicting priorities among senators as we are working within a fixed budget.”

Senator John Boozman (R-AR):

“Considering how vital agriculture is to Arkansas’s economy, ensuring that we pass a final reauthorization of the farm bill before adjournment has been a top priority of mine. Our farmers and ranchers have been dealing with low commodity prices, high input costs, volatile weather events and an uncertain trade environment. The last thing they need is continued uncertainty that would only intensify if we failed to see this through the finish line. That is why we worked hard, in a bipartisan manner, to reach consensus on a final version that will deliver for Arkansans and all those who earn their livelihood in the agricultural economy, protect key risk management tools and maintain strong farm policy for producers of all stripes.”

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH):

“At the beginning of the year, I pledged to get the Farm Bill done, so that we could provide Ohio farmers with the certainty they deserve,” said Brown. “And I’m proud that this final bipartisan bill will do that. We secured important wins for Ohio dairy farmers, as well as soybean and corn farmers. This final bill protects funding for critical nutrition programs that feed Ohio families, makes historic investments in local foods, and continues to invest in programs to improve water quality in Lake Erie and across the state. Congress should move swiftly so that we can get this bill over the finish line.”

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