By Debra Davis
National lawmakers have reached a tentative deal on the farm bill following months of negotiations about the bill’s details.
“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 farm bill,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., along with other ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, Thursday. “We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as Congressional Budget Office scores, but we still have more work to do. We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible.”
The farm bill oversees farming, conservation and nutrition programs and is reauthorized every five years by Congress. Different versions of the bill passed the House and Senate earlier this year, and a conference committee, which include U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., has been ironing out differences.
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Mitt Walker said farmers are anxious to see the final version of the bill.
“Alabama farmers are encouraged progress has been made and completing the farm bill before the end of the year remains a possibility,” said Walker, the Federation’s National Legislative Programs director. “With the farm economy still hampered by low prices and coupled with severe weather issues, the certainty provided by a newly enacted farm bill is particularly important.”
Lawmakers faced pressure from farmers and ranchers to get a deal done, particularly amid a steep decline over the last several years in farm incomes and lagging commodity prices, said Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation executive vice president.
“Reaching an agreement gives farmers and ranchers certainty that a farm bill is getting done and will help them weather the economic storms in their way,” Moore said. “It’s especially important as banks are beginning to look with farmers at the next financial year.”