Agriculture’s 2018 Gift from Congress: The Farm Bill
For the past several years, it seems as if very little in the way of cooperation between the two political parties in Congress has occurred. This has included everything from major legislation regarding health care to simple judicial appointments. In fact, at a recent meeting around Halloween this year, one speaker opined that her hopes for a new Farm Bill before the end of 2018 were dim because “very little can be accomplished in Congress right now because of how each party views the other.”
Yet, as the lame duck Congress prepares to wrap up 2018, both parties have come together on their support for U.S. agriculture by approving a new Farm Bill. This legislation, which provides $867 billion in funding for the next five years, passed through the House of Representatives by a vote of 369 to 47 and the Senate by a vote of 87 to 13. Given the season, call this a Christmas present of sorts to agriculture.
Agricultural trade groups were quick to praise the passage of this legislation. Both the National Association of Wheat Growers and the American Soybean Association (ASA) applauded this move. “This legislation will undoubtedly provide a needed layer of stability and certainty for our soy industry and across agriculture,” said ASA President Davie Stephens. “Timely passage of a new farm bill as opposed to another temporary extension this year will offer significant benefits to our industry.”
Still, not everyone was pleased with the final Farm Bill. In a released statement, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) said it thought the bill was “missed opportunity” to correct some regulatory problems including the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, a definition of a “retailer,” the Endangered Species Act, and the Waters of the U.S. “This legislation represented a significant opportunity to correct some serious regulatory issues, and those solutions did not make the final bill despite significant bipartisan support,” wrote ARA. “ARA will not oppose this bill, but we had hoped for much more.”