WASHINGTON, D.C. – Delivering on a promise, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 was favorably reported out of the Committee with bipartisan support. It passed out of committee on 2-1 vote.
Commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, the bipartisan 5-year legislation encompasses a broad array of agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry policy. The legislation now heads to the full U.S. Senate for consideration.
“The Senate Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan Farm Bill process is a reminder of how things should work in Washington — listening to the folks back home, working through issues with the other side of the aisle, then writing a good bill,” said Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow. “Today marks another important step in the road to getting an on-time Farm Bill enacted into law. We urge our colleagues to support this bill.”
Click here to read the legislation, summaries and amendments.
The legislation has the support of more than 115 agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry groups.
Natalie Higgins, vice president of government relations for the Equipment Dealers Assn., said she was pleased to see some of the changes made to the bill in committee. "EDA is enthusiastic about the robust, bipartisan support for the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 seen in the Committee. We are also pleased to see that harmful amendments, which would eliminate or change crop insurance, were omitted during the first round of markups," she said. "EDA will continue to closely monitor the advancement of this bill and advocate for the preservation of crop insurance which provides U.S. farmers with necessary protection so that they can continue to feed the world using cutting edge technology."
Vernon Schmidt, executive vice president of the Farm Equipment Manufacturer's Assn., says the association applauds the overwhelming support shown in the Senate Ag Committee for a new 5-year farm bill. "While the Senate bill does not contain some of the good provisions in the bill awaiting a second vote in the House, it appears the Senate understands the urgency of taking action now. It is very encouraging to see Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying the bill will be called for a floor vote before July 4th, he says. "We hope this quick Senate action will cause House members to also take action, find a compromise which can get 60 Senate votes, and put a bill on the President’s desk this summer. There are already too many threats to our industry, this is one issue all sides need to come together on quickly, and move on to the other major challenges facing the farmers and ranchers that our members build equipment for."
Ahead of the vote, Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater commented, “Sound agricultural policy that promotes a strong farm economy will not only assist farmers and ranchers, but also help protect many of the 1.3 million equipment manufacturing jobs across the country. We applaud the leadership provided by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to produce the bipartisan Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which provides much-needed funding for programs that assist farmers and ranchers battered by low commodity prices. We urge all the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee to vote in support of the bill.”
Responding to the approval, the National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) president and North Dakota Farmer Kevin Skunes commented, “Today’s Committee action marks another step forward in getting a new farm bill passed and signed into law before the current bill expires, providing some certainty to farmers facing declining commodity prices and the uncertainty caused by trade tariffs and ethanol market disruptions.”
He adds that NCGA was pleased to see the bill maintains support for a robust crop insurance program, but said the association was disappointed in some aspects of the bill. “It is very disappointing that provisions attempting to secure a more regionally equitable commodity title and improve the ARC-county program to ensure producers have a viable, market-oriented risk management option were not included in the final bill,” said Skunes.
Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) President & CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey commented, “Farmers, ranchers and their lenders need the certainty, predictability and income protections that a 5-year farm bill will provide as they struggle through the current era of very low commodity prices, with net farm income down by more than 50%. since 2013.
“ICBA welcomes the bill’s provisions to maintain commodity price protections and a strong crop insurance program. ICBA also supports the bill’s increase for guaranteed farm loan limits to $1.75 million, up from the current $1.39 million level, in addition to other important programs.”
Click here to watch the Committee’s hearings in preparation for the 2018 Farm Bill.