WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — With the closing of the 2018 midterm elections, U.S. grain groups are looking to Congress to prioritize passing the 2018 farm bill before the end of session.
“While the 2018 midterm elections brought change to the political makeup of Congress, this should not impact the priority of passing the 2018 farm bill by the end of this session of Congress,” said Jimmie Musick, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG).
U.S. Senate and U.S. House farm bill conferees failed to resolve differences in their respective farm bills drafted to replace the Agricultural Act of 2014 before it expired Sept. 30.
“With the farm bill having expired, growers are left with much uncertainty and are denied access to several beneficial programs within the bill,” Musick said. “In particular, the outlook for foreign market development funding is in doubt until action is taken. Additionally, the USDA no longer has the authority to undertake new sign-ups for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which incentivizes growers to incorporate healthy soil, non-tillage, and other similar practices into their operations.
“The economy in rural America is struggling and we need strong supporters of agriculture to bring it out of these difficult times. NAWG urges Congress to pass the 2018 farm bill during lame duck and is looking forward to working with the new Congress on overseeing implementation of the bill and educating them on the value of the wheat industry.”
Agriculture always has depended on support from both sides of the aisle, and with midterm elections over, the American Soybean Association (ASA) expects that longstanding bipartisan cooperation to be renewed. The ASA reiterated its request for the now lame-duck 115th Congress to pass a new five-year bill that can provide greater certainty and long-term stability during a down farm economy and time of trade strife. The association also said it is important to reaffirm its commitment to conservation practices, invest in agricultural research and work to expand new markets for soybeans.
“The farm bill is our greatest risk management tool,” said John Heisdorffer, president of the ASA. “With the economic challenges facing all farmers today, tools such as crop insurance, as well as ARC & PLC, are invaluable. In addition to support from farm programs, funding for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and Market Access Program (MAP) is needed. FMD funding has already lapsed, and MAP funding will run out at year’s end. These programs are critical to the soybean industry, particularly with the need to open and expand markets to offset sales lost to China.”
The ASA remains positive that members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees can resolve differences between their respective bills and agree on a compromise version in December.