2018 Farm Bill Compromise Reached, Industry Weighs In
WASHINGTON, DC - After months of impasse over the infamous Farm Bill, a compromise was reached last night, moving the legislation one step closer to the House, Senate, and being signed into law by President Trump.
Many from across our industry applauded the milestone reached, particularly for the organic and specialty crop industries, and celebrated the forward movement of the bill.
“We are pleased that the farm bill negotiators have completed their task as the 2018 Farm Bill acknowledges the growing importance of the specialty crop industry to American agriculture and offers real progress on many of our top priorities, including funding for mechanization research and development, as well as improved access to crop insurance tools,” said Tom Nassif, Western Growers’ President and CEO in a statement. “All in all, we applaud the committee leaders, conferees, and staff for their diligence in producing a strong, bi-partisan farm bill, and we urge swift passage and enactment before the end of the year.”
Nassif also pointed to the following achievements the latest Farm Bill included:
- Funding increases for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative
- The continuation of funding for vital citrus greening research
- The creation of an Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority pilot program, an innovative, private sector-modeled approach to funding high-priority research needs
- Positive reforms to the National Organics Standards Board
- Improved access to rural water infrastructure funds for our local communities
- A waiver of the adjusted gross income limit for conservation program eligibility, ensuring our growers will not be excluded from smart stewardship efforts simply because of their financial viability
In addition to the aforementioned accomplishments, the Organic Trade Association, which has been involved in the shaping of the Farm Bill since 2016, lauded the following organic industry priorities included in the Farm Bill:
- Essential tools and funding for the improved oversight of trade to ensure the integrity of organic throughout the global supply chain
- The largest increase in funding for the flagship Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program in over a decade to achieve stable, baseline mandatory funding for the program
- Funding for the organic certification cost-share program that helps to incentivize small and beginning farmers to transition to organic by relieving some of the associated costs with annual organic certification fees
- Full funding for the Organic Data Initiative, USDA's organic data collection program that provides accurate market and production information for the organic industry
“This Farm Bill marks a key milestone for organic with $50 million in annual funding for the flagship Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program by 2023, more than double the current funding level,” Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association said in a statement. “This will ensure stable, baseline mandatory funding for the program, and will enable organic farmers to meet the unique challenges they face. The bill also includes important steps to modernize and speed up federal efforts to prevent organic fraud, to create a transparent marketplace, and to ensure that every stakeholder in the organic chain is playing by the rules.”
California Fresh Fruit Association's President George Radanovich added, “We are encouraged to see that the Conferees were able to come to an agreement and that U.S. Agriculture will again have a long-term plan laid out in the Farm Bill. We hope for swift and robust approval in both the House and Senate. Thank you to Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson for all of your work.”
"TIPA is pleased with the progress being made on the 2018 Farm Bill. After the challenges in September, it felt like the bill was destined to be a piece of 2019 legislation. It'll be a relief to finally see the 2018 Farm Bill get approved," said Dante Galeazzi, TIPA President. "For the region, we are especially grateful to see the additions made in the bill to further citrus disease research and continuing foreign market access programs."
PMA’s Vice President of Global Membership and Engagement Richard Owen added, "After many months of work, PMA is pleased to see the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees release the conference report for the 2018 Farm Bill. We’re particularly pleased to see increased specialty crop funding in the areas of research, technical assistance, and inspection services. Funding for programs that provide access to new markets is also key, considering the importance of exports to the livelihood of so many U.S. fruit and vegetable producers. We look forward to the Farm Bill quickly moving through Congress and on to the President for signature."
Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at United Fresh, likewise applauded the approval of the Farm Bill conference report.
“United Fresh commends the House and the Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee for approving a Farm Bill conference report that includes the priorities of United Fresh and our members,” said Guenther, in a statement. “We are proud to be part of the leadership team of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance which has focused its efforts over the last three Farm Bills to ensure that our critical segment of agriculture is a vital partner in developing farm and agriculture legislation for the United States…The fresh produce industry has much at stake in this legislation and we are grateful for the recognition of the role our industry plays in providing nutritious foods for Americans and those around the world. We look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure Congressional passage of this legislation so that it reaches the President’s desk before the conclusion of the 115th Congress.”
Will the compromise be enough to push the Farm Bill through the House and the Senate? AndNowUKnow will continue to report on the latest legislation affecting our industry.