President Signs 2018 Farm Bill Into Law
UPDATE December 20, 2018
President Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) into law today in a Washington, DC, ceremony, surrounded by legislators and representatives of farm organizations.
National Cotton Council (NCC) Chairman Ron Craft, a ginner from Plains, TX, attended the signing. Signaling the NCC’s appreciation of the new farm law, Craft stated, “The commitment to farmers by Congress, especially the Cotton Belt Members who supported the farm bill, and the Administration to get this farm law into place this year will enable our nation’s farmers to continue producing safe, abundant, and affordable food and fiber.
“Their persistence on and support of this legislation means the continuation and enhancements of a much-needed safety net,” he added. “I know this is especially crucial for U.S. cotton producers, as many are still dealing with natural disasters that occurred this growing season, while others will undoubtedly face other harmful weather events ahead.”
The new farm law – which was built within existing budget resources – will provide U.S. farmers with stability and help them better manage their risk, not only from weather events but swings in commodity prices and other global marketplace situations such as the current retaliatory trade tariffs on U.S. agricultural products.
The new farm law includes many of the U.S. cotton industry’s policy priorities – continuation of the Seed Cotton ARC/PLC program, full access to the marketing loan program, full funding for textile competitiveness programs, effective crop insurance products, no reduction in arbitrary payment limits, and addressing overly restrictive family farm eligibility requirements.
The adjustment to the ‘family definition’ for farm programs will help resolve the unintended and punitive restrictions that resulted from the ‘actively engaged’ changes made by the 2014 farm law and ensure that all family farms are treated equitably. In addition, the bill includes a yield update opportunity for all producers that will better align program yields with current production levels. Report language attached to the new farm law encourages USDA to work with the cotton industry to make administrative changes in the cotton warehouse and shipping provisions to help ensure the timely flow of cotton to the marketplace.
UPDATE December 13, 2018
All that’s needed is one signature, and U.S. agriculture will have a new Farm Bill for Christmas.
Members of the Senate approved the proposed Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 – aka the 2018 Farm Bill – by a vote of 87-13 the evening of December 11.
One day later, the report breezed through the House of Representatives by a vote of 369-47, with 182 Republicans and 187 Democrats supporting the bill.
The votes indicated strong support in both chambers of Congress for the bipartisan, bicameral legislation months in the making.
The Farm Bill now moves to the White House for President Trump’s signature.
Posted December 11, 2018
House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders released the text of the bipartisan, bicameral 2018 Farm Bill conference report on December 10, clearing the way for final Congressional review and passage.
In a statement released by the National Cotton Council (NCC), the organization voiced its support for the farm bill report – titled the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 – and urged Congress to quickly pass the measure and for the President to sign it into law.
The new farm bill culminates years of work and commitment by Members of Congress and their staff to update and improve current farm policy within the existing budget resources available.
“America’s farmers and ranchers are weathering the fifth year of severe recession, so passing a farm bill this week that strengthens the farm safety net is vitally important,” said House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX). “I am grateful to the President, Secretary Perdue and my leadership for standing fast for the hard-working farm and ranch families that clothe and feed us. I also appreciate the members of the conference committee for bringing this process one step closer to completion.”
“The 2018 Farm Bill is our opportunity to make the American food and agriculture systems work more efficiently,” added Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). “We started this journey nearly two years ago. As promised, this farm bill provides much needed certainty and predictability for all producers – of all crops – across all regions across the country. I thank my counterparts in the Senate and House for coming to – and staying at – the table to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement for rural America.”
The new five-year farm bill will bring some much-needed certainty and predictability to U.S. agriculture, including the U.S. cotton industry. The bill provides more tools to help producers manage risk, and invests in research, outreach to beginning and underserved producers, local and organic food production, bioenergy, and access to new markets. It also addresses broadband, farm stress and mental health issues, and the opioid epidemic in rural areas and invests $300 million for prevention and response for animal pests and disease.
“The 2018 Farm Bill is a good bill for our farmers and everyone who eats,” said Ranking Senate Ag Committee Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “Working together, we continued to expand the diversity of our agricultural economy, maintained a strong food and farm safety net, created new opportunities in our small towns and rural communities, and made significant investments in land and water conservation.”
The NCC statement noted that the continued safety net in the report is especially crucial, as many parts of the Cotton Belt have faced devastating natural disasters this growing season, compounding producers’ financial strains from retaliatory trade tariffs on U.S. cotton.
NCC Chairman Ron Craft said, “The NCC greatly appreciates the hard work and dedication of Chairmen Conaway (R-TX) and Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Members Peterson (D-MN) and Stabenow (D-MI) and their staff to develop a final farm bill that recognizes the unique policy needs for all crops and regions across the country.
“Our industry is especially thankful to Chairman Conaway and his team for their leadership in advancing and protecting cotton’s priorities in the legislation,” Craft added. “In addition to these House and Senate agriculture committee leaders, Cotton Belt Members of Congress helped develop and move the farm bill through the House and Senate, and our industry is extremely grateful for their ongoing support of the cotton industry.”
The bill includes many of the cotton industry’s policy priorities – continuation of the Seed Cotton ARC/PLC program, full access to the marketing loan program, full funding for textile competitiveness programs, effective crop insurance products, no reduction in arbitrary payment limits. It also adjusts overly restrictive family farm eligibility requirements to help resolve the unintended and punitive restrictions that resulted from the “actively engaged” changes made by the 2014 farm law and ensure that all family farms are treated equitably.
In addition, the bill includes a yield update opportunity for all producers that will better align program yields with current production levels.
“Following Congressional passage and the President’s signature,” Craft stated, “the NCC looks forward to working with Secretary Perdue and the USDA team on timely implementation of this important legislation.”
Based on information from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and the National Cotton Council