It's official! Trump signs new farm bill
The U.S. officially has a new farm bill, one that's drawing widespread support from American agricultural and farm groups. President Donald Trump signed the new farm bill into law Thursday afternoon. The farm bill, the centerpiece of U.S. food an...
The U.S. officially has a new farm bill, one that's drawing widespread support from American agricultural and farm groups.
President Donald Trump signed the new farm bill into law Thursday afternoon. The farm bill, the centerpiece of U.S. food and ag policy which is updated every five years, expired this fall.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a written statement that American agriculture will benefit greatly from the new farm bill.
"This is a great day for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, as President Trump's signature on this bill is a Christmas present to American agriculture. Farmers take financial risks every year as a matter of doing business, so having a farm bill in place gives them peace of mind to make their decisions for the future. Since early talks on this farm bill began back in 2017, I've always believed it would be more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, and that has borne out to be true," Perdue said.
Among many other things, "The bill bolsters farm safety net programs, protects federal crop insurance, and maintains strong rural development and research initiatives," Perdue said.
Farm groups, who have stressed for months the importance of a new farm bill, generally were positive about the legislation signed by Trump.
Mark Watne, North Dakota Farmers Union president, said, "We applaud our congressional delegation and the bipartisan work of the conference committee in getting a farm bill to the president before year's end. This gives farmers some certainty moving forward in very uncertain economic times."
The new farm bill continues federal crop insurance, which seeks to protect farmers from "unavoidable risk" associated with bad weather, crop disease and insects. Taxpayers pick up some of the cost, farmers the rest. Crop insurance policies are sold and serviced through private companies. The federal government subsidizes the program to keep it affordable.
Though unpopular with some on the political left and political right and even some in agriculture, maintaining federal crop insurance in the new farm bill was a priority for many ag groups.
In a joint statement, the American Association of Crop Insurers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and National Crop Insurance Service all expressed their satisfaction with the crop insurance provisions in the new farm bill.
Some groups, though supportive of the overall farm bill, were critical of portions of it.
For example, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the new farm bill contains a number of "wins" for agriculture. But the group also said that "While not completely eliminating the program as the House farm bill originally proposed, the final bill does make long-term cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program that will harm farmers' efforts to steward their land."
The new farm bill, despite a number of changes, doesn't make fundamental alterations to ag policy, several ag groups noted.
"Though this farm bill is 'evolutionary' rather than 'revolutionary,' it nonetheless provides a much-needed degree of support and stability to a struggling farm community,'' said John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, echoing one of Perdue's comments.
Still, Perdue said the new farm bill "reinvents the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers, providing a boost to coverage levels and a reduction in premiums after the program fell short in the 2014 Farm Bill."
He also noted that the 2018 legislation includes a new Animal Disease Prevention and Management program, providing annual funding for three animal health programs, a new vaccine bank focused on foot-and-mouth disease and extended funding of the National Animal Health Laboratory.
"All told, this is a farm bill that should be welcomed by producers, and at USDA, we will eagerly implement its provisions," Perdue said.