Congress only has a few days left in 2018 to pass a farm bill
LYONS, NEBRASKA – Congress returns to Washington this week with only a few days left in 2018 to pass legislation. Center for Rural Affairs Policy Manager Anna Johnson said passing a strong, new farm bill should be at the top of their list.
She outlined three reasons lawmakers should approve a farm bill including closing loopholes in commodity payments, renewing major conservation programs, and continuing programs that offer support to rural communities and beginning farmers.
“First, loopholes in commodity programs are allowing the largest farms to exploit the system and claim incredibly high payments,” she said. “Not only do these loopholes allow for misuse of taxpayer dollars, this unfair advantage creates an uneven playing field for smaller, family-sized operations and drives farm consolidation.”
Johnson said a new farm bill needs to close these loopholes.
“America also needs farmers and ranchers who are committed caretakers of the land,” she continued. “Farm bill conservation programs offer a needed path to allow farmers and ranchers to improve their stewardship of water and soil. A new farm bill should provide strong support for conservation, including the Conservation Stewardship Program.”
She said the Conservation Stewardship Program allows farmers and ranchers to conduct targeted conservation efforts across their operations.
“Finally, rural America needs strong and diverse economic opportunities,” Johnson said. “The farm bill contains several smaller programs that offer support for rural economic vitality and the next generation of farmers. Not renewing these programs closes the door of opportunity for many in rural America.”
Congress allowed the 2014 farm bill to expire on Sept. 30, stranding billions of dollars in programs with no authority to operate. Currently, both the Senate and the House have put forward draft farm bills.
“The Senate has proposed a farm bill that, if passed, would accomplish all of these goals and serve rural America well,” Johnson said. “What’s more, it passed with historically strong bipartisan support. Congress, we urge you to follow the lead of the Senate and pass a final farm bill that supports rural America.”
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