With the Farm Bill now passed by both houses of Congress, it is now on to the desk of President Trump. It was a wild 48 hours.
On Monday evening the Conference Committee finished signing off on the compromised 2018 Farm Bill. House Ag Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX 11th) dropped the bill into the hopper. This means the bill is now able to be acted on by either house of Congress.
Late Tuesday afternoon, while many of us were speculating about the timetable for the bill’s passage, the Senate passed the bill on a vote of 87-13. This put all the pressure on to the house.
The House was the source of the more contentious original version of the bill, which included reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Their version had called for stricter work requirements on SNAP recipients. This version made it out of the house. It was passed with no Democratic support, and a few Republican dissenters.
After debates on the floor about a last-minute rider attached in the House Rules Committee, limiting the war powers of the House until the end of this Congress, the Bill finally came up for a vote. The House proceeded to pass the compromised version by a larger margin than the Senate, 368-47.
House Ag Committee Chairman Conaway said the fact that the House passed this bill so overwhelmingly is a testament to the importance of food producers around the country. Conaway says people realize the past years haven’t been good to farmers.
Conaway highlighted what he felt were the strongest parts of the new Farm Bill.
United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue released the following statement:
“The passage of the 2019 Farm Bill is good news because it provides a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers, who need the dependability and certainty this legislation affords. This Farm Bill will help producers make decisions about the future, while also investing in important agricultural research and supporting trade programs to bolster exports. While I feel there were missed opportunities in forest management and in improving work requirements for certain SNAP recipients, this bill does include several helpful provisions and we will continue to build upon these through our authorities. I commend Congress for bringing the Farm Bill across the finish line and am encouraging President Trump to sign it.”
Closer to Iowa, Senator Joni Ernst sat on the Conference Committee and said this is a big win for Iowa farmers and ranchers.
Ernst was pleased to get her “Farmers First Act” included in the final bill. It will help address the rising suicide rate among producers and provide mental health services.
Senator Ernst thanked all Iowans who gave input on the Farm Bill.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig also weighed in on the bill’s passage.
“A new five-year Farm Bill will provide needed certainty and predictability for farmers in what has been a very volatile and challenging time. I commend the efforts by leaders in both the House and Senate, including Sen. Ernst who was a conferee, to finalize the agreement and get it passed. I encourage President Trump to sign the bill into law quickly so farmers can know what federal policy will be as they continue to plan for the 2019 growing season.
“Crop insurance, conservation, and trade were the top three issues I heard about as I traveled the state and visited with farmers about the Farm Bill. The bill passed today maintains the crop insurance program and continues the important federal support for conservation efforts. The bill also preserves important trade promotion programs within USDA.
“The bill also provides significant funding to support efforts to prepare for and potentially respond to foreign animal diseases, including funding for a vaccine bank for foot and mouth disease. With new cases of African swine fever continuing to be found around the world and ongoing concerns about avian influenza, it is critically important we continue to expand emergency response preparations on both the state and federal level.”
The Iowa Corn Growers Association also thanked Congress for moving quickly and encouraged the President to sign it.
“Iowa Corn welcomes the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill before the start of the new year. ICGA is pleased to see there were no cuts to the current crop insurance program and a continuation of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). ICGA also appreciates the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) trade programs will be funded at full levels for the next five years-a huge win for Iowa corn farmers as these fundamental programs support the promotion of corn in all forms in international markets. The Genomes to Phenomes Initiative has been included in the bill as it is essential for Iowa corn farmers in developing new varieties allowing the potential for higher yields. All of these programs are crucial to the success of Iowa’s corn growers and we thank our grower members for your efforts in urging lawmakers to reach a deal before the new year.”
The President is expected to sign the bill into law next week.