Feb 1, 2018
USDA releases outline of goals for new Farm Bill

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their principles of a new 2018 Farm Bill.

“They are our way of letting Congress know what we’ve heard from the hard-working men and women of American agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told CNN. “While we understand it’s the legislature’s job to write the Farm Bill, USDA will be right there providing whatever counsel Congress may request or require.”

For trade and foreign agricultural affairs, the principles outline three main goals.

  • Improve U.S. market competitiveness by expanding investments, strengthening accountability of export promotion programs, and incentivizing stronger financial partnerships.
  • Ensure the Farm Bill is consistent with U.S. international trade laws and obligations.
  • Open foreign markets by increasing USDA expertise in scientific and technical areas to more effectively monitor foreign practices that impede U.S. agricultural exports and engage with foreign partners to address them.

The Farm Bill sets out both agricultural policy as well as guidelines for nutritional programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps. According to the Trump administration, there may be new work requirements for those who wish to receive food stamps.

On the agricultural side, the National Potato Council said the principles are well-aligned with a number of the priorities of the potato industry.

“It’s clear that Secretary Perdue’s focus on enhancing agricultural research, making science-based nutrition policy and enhancing international competitiveness are all things we strongly support,” said NPC CEO John Keeling.

One principle that the NPC said relieved organizations working in the export arena was that the USDA indicated their interest in ensuring “accountability” in their export promotion programs. That stance, the group said, is much different than what was indicated in the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget that recommended eliminating all funding for the Market Access Program (MAP), which is the largest and most important of all the export promotion programs.

“We’re optimistic that USDA’s softening of their position on MAP is the result of their growing understanding of how important it is in competing against foreign governments,” Keeling said.



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