MONTGOMERY, Ala., April 12 — Crop insurance and commodity programs were preserved and changes were recommended for conservation and nutrition in the proposed farm bill unveiled today by U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas.
Alabama Farmers Federation National Affairs Director Mitt Walker said the legislation is the starting point for what could be a lengthy process for reauthorizing U.S. farm policy.
“While this first draft is likely to change significantly before final approval, Alabama farmers are encouraged with key provisions of the bill,” Walker said. “The House proposal continues the cotton program included in this year’s appropriations bill. It also provides an opportunity for commodity reference prices to increase with world markets. The bill consolidates conservation programs and increases accountability in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”
The House Agriculture Committee is expected to consider the legislation next week. Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, serves on the committee. Walker said the Federation’s Farm Bill Committee will continue to monitor the five-year package as it makes its way through Congress. Walker is also working closely with American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) staff to ensure the interests of Southeastern agriculture are addressed.
Highlights of the proposed Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 include:
- Reauthorizes and strengthens the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) options through 2023. Farmers choosing the PLC option could benefit from a new provision allowing reference prices to adjust upward by up to 115 percent as the market improves. Farmers choosing ARC option will have the opportunity to use yields collected by the Risk Management Agency.
- Maintains a separate payment limitation for the peanut program.
- Preserves existing crop insurance programs.
- Increases funding for EQIP to $3 billion per year over the life of the farm bill, incorporating the best features of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
- Gradually increases Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage to 29 million acres over the life of the farm bill while capping rental rates.
- Provides $100 million toward a pilot program to address feral swine.
- Increases funding for SNAP Employment & Training from $90 million to $1 billion over three years and increases work requirements for SNAP recipients.
- Provides incentives for providers to offer broadband service to rural America.
The estimated cost of the proposed legislation is $860 billion over 10 years— about $100 billion less than the initial price tag of the 2014 farm bill.