Provisions aimed at helping farmers were included in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill the U.S. House and Senate passed March 22. The bill funds the government through fiscal year 2018, which ends Sept. 30.
In the appropriations bill, the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act permanently exempts farmers from reporting air emissions under CERCLA rules. The bill also prohibits enforcing electronic logging device (ELD) requirements through the fiscal year.
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Mitt Walker said these exemptions and other provisions help provide certainty for producers.
“Exempting farmers from reporting livestock emissions under CERCLA requirements is a big win for our members,” said Walker, the Federation’s National Legislative Programs director. “Delaying ELD requirements is also important, giving lawmakers time to reevaluate a regulation that will hinder farmers’ profitability and create undue stress for livestock in transport. Several members from the Alabama delegation played key roles to ensure these provisions and others were included in the final version of the bill. Their support of agriculture and rural Alabama is greatly appreciated.”
Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, and Doug Jones, D-Alabama, voted in favor of the bill, which passed the Senate 65-32.
In the House, the vote passed 256-167. Alabama Reps. Robert Aderholt, Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mike Rogers and Terri Sewell supported the bill. Reps. Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer opposed passage.
Other provisions include
- Requiring USDA to fully implement the catfish inspection program within 180 days
- Increasing feral swine surveillance by $5 million
- Providing new flexibility related to studies for irrigation projects funded through the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program
- Increasing funding to expand rural broadband internet
- Creating a new program to address payment disparities in the farm bill’s ARC-CO program
- Equalizing tax treatment of commodity sales to cooperatives and non-co-ops by addressing Section 199A in the tax code.