What a roller coaster this farm bill has been! Yesterday, the Senate passed the final version of the bill, and it’s on it’s way to the President’s desk. Click here to see how your senators voted!
If signed into law (which is expected), we’ll be posting a longer analysis next week. As a snapshot, here are some of the things this bill does:
Conservation - A mixed bag, the bill includes “conservation compliance”, which requires farmers receiving crop insurance premium subsidies to provide a minimum level of conservation; Sodsaver in 6 states; and cuts $4 billion from conservation programs, including limiting the Conservation Stewardship Program to 10 million new acres per year (a cut of 22%).
Subsidy Reform - In a huge blow, the final bill cut historic reforms to commodity program subsidies that had passed in both chambers of Congress. They actually increased the limit, and they cut “actively engaged” language, which would close the loopholes that allow large, wealthy farms to collect many multiples of the current payment limit.
Rural Development - Though funding for rural programs is dangerously low, the bill includes funding for two of our high priority program - the Value Added Producer Grant program and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance program.
Beginning Farmers and Ranchers - There is continued funding for training and mentoring for beginning farmers and ranchers, with a new emphasis on veteran farmers.
Thank you for all your hard work over the last few years! While there are some really good provisions that we couldn't have won without all of your calls, emails, signatures, and other efforts, we are disappointed in the final bill. It failed to make crucial reforms, while at the same time cutting funding for conservation and other programs.
We will keep pushing! Stay tuned for more analysis, and how you can help as things move over to USDA.
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