Jun 29, 2018Senate approves its version of farm bill
With a bipartisan vote of 86-11, the U.S. Senate June 28 passed its version of the farm bill.
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA), representing over 120 specialty crop organizations across the United States, has released the following statement after the passage of the farm bill in the U.S. Senate
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance applauds the bipartisan efforts of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, and members of the Senate in passing the Agriculture Improvement Act. The Alliance strongly supports the inclusion of a new research program for citrus producers, increased funds for nutrition programs and the extension of many of the specialty crop provisions that were included in the 2014 Farm Bill, such as:
- Specialty Crop Block Grants ($85 million/year)
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative ($80 million/year)
- Trade Programs including Market Access Program ($200 million/year) and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops ($9 million/year)
- Pest and Disease Programs ($75 million/year) and National Clean Plant Network ($5 million/year)
- Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive Program (Increased to $250 million over five years)
- Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund ($125 million over five years)
“Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow’s work over the past year produced a Farm Bill that is clearly committed to investing in specialty crop agriculture. Our coalition appreciates the value of these programs in supporting our industry and delivering nutritious specialty crops to consumers. Looking forward, we encourage leadership in both chambers to convene a conference committee in an expeditious manner. For agriculture and the jobs it creates, it’s critical that Congress completes its work before the current farm bill expires on Sept. 30. Our industry stands ready to work with members of the conference committee to ensure a bill that will help specialty crop agriculture stay strong and competitive.”
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The Alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy. For more information, visit http://www.farmbillalliance.org.
“The bipartisan bill strongly supports Michigan’s farmers and agricultural economy, which is the Michigan’s second-largest industry,” Stabenow said. “The bill also has a major impact in protecting Michigan’s Great Lakes, investing in our small towns and rural communities, promoting Michigan forestry, supporting local food economies and providing healthy food for families.
“This Farm Bill is a major bipartisan victory that has Michigan on every page,” said Stabenow. “By reaching across party lines and working together, we are able to provide certainty to Michigan’s farmers, families, and rural communities.”
Stabenow, who serves as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, co-authored the bill with Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Serving as Chairwoman in 2014, Stabenow authored the current Farm Bill, which is set to expire in September 2018.
“The bipartisan 2018 Senate Farm Bill fuels economic opportunity and job growth both on and off the farm in small towns and cities alike. It creates certainty – not just for farmers and farm workers, but also for equipment manufacturers, food processing businesses, retailers, and many other employers across Michigan,” Stabenow said.
New federal farm legislation passed by the U.S. Senate includes many of the top priorities identified by the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF).
The bill establishes federal policy on agricultural programs encompassing conservation, nutrition, commodities, trade, research, rural development and other topics. The Senate bill will be reconciled in conference committee with a farm bill passed by the House last week.
“The farm bill represents a five-year agreement between farmers and the American people,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “We will encourage our representatives to meld the best elements of the House and Senate bills to create a modern farm bill that serves farmers, ranchers, rural Americans and everyone who depends on the nation’s agricultural production.”
Johansson noted that the bill preserves conservation programs important to California farmers and ranchers and maintains investments in trade development, organic agriculture and programs to aid production of specialty crops such as vegetables, nuts and fruits. He said the measure also encourages research into mechanization, which offers a partial remedy for ongoing employee shortages on farms and ranches.
“This commitment to research acknowledges the need for long-term solutions for agricultural labor needs, and at the same time creates resources to develop innovative ways to harvest and care for crops,” Johansson said.
“On the other hand, the bill isn’t perfect,” he added. “We would like to see an improved risk-management program for dairy farms and changes to eligibility requirements for conservation programs that would allow more California farmers and ranchers to participate. The federal government also needs to adjust its definition of the term ‘rural,’ so more California communities could qualify for programs to improve facilities in rural regions.”