Farm Bill leaves conference, passes Senate, headed for House


Farm Bill leaves conference, passes Senate, headed for House

The final version of the Farm Bill finally emerged from the conference between House and Senate agricultural committee leaders on Monday. It was approved by the Senate on Tuesday, 87-13, with the House expected to pass it today.The final version was much closer to the Senate version of the bill than the House version, which included stringent work requirements for those using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and harsher penalties for not meeting the requirements.“The reason why the Farm Bill got passed, and got passed mostly along the lines of the Senate, was the Republicans calculated they would like the bill more before January 1 than after January 1,” when the Democratic House will come to power, said Andrew Novakovic, E.V. Baker professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University. The sweeping farm legislation covers a wide range of issues relevant to Northern New York residents, including protections for specialty crops, access to rural broadband, SNAP and a number of dairy protections.The most significant change came to the dairy protections with a much more flexible Margin of Protection Program, an insurance program for milk prices. “This new program is really like the Margin Protection Plan 3.0,” Mr. Novakovic said. “But it has been so significantly revised it can only be described as a very appealing program.”Farmers buy protection for a percentage of their production at a certain margin — the difference between the cost of feed and the price of the milk per hundredweight — and receive a payout per hundredweight if they receive less than that margin.Under the new program, farmers can insure as little as 5 percent or as much as 95 percent of their production, and choose a margin from $4 to $9.50, a higher margin than previously offered. Mr. Novakovic said it would benefit most dairy farms, and for medium farms was almost “a no brainer.”The bill also includes a refund for some farmers who bought into a previous iteration of the program from 2014 to 2017, which frequently failed to pay off. These farmers can receive 75 percent of the premiums they paid in, minus any payouts, as credit towards future protection or receive 50 percent of premiums, against minus payouts, as cash.“The idea was the program that was in place for 2015, 2016, 2017 was a big disappointment,” Mr. Novakovic said.This update to the MPP program was widely supported.“There are stronger risk management tools in this bill, including enhanced coverage for dairy farmers,” wrote Steve Ammerman, Farm Bureau manager of public affairs, in an email to the Times. “It will be especially important to have a new Farm Bill in place as next year shows signs of continued economic stress in the farming community.”Mr. Ammerman said they would have a longer comment after the expected House vote today.The final bill included almost none of the House changes to SNAP, which caused all the Democrats in the House to vote against the bill when it first came to vote in the spring.“They didn’t change the existing work requirements for SNAP,” Mr. Novakovic said. “The Republican House completely capitulated on that.”North country federal representatives applauded the dairy program updates, which both New York senators voted for.“I’m really happy with what’s in the Farm Bill,” said Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand during a telephone news conference on Tuesday.Sen. Gillibrand said it included almost everything she had hoped for, including the dairy updates but also aquaculture insurance, barley data and a host of other issues. “There was more money for rural development … which only helps our economy,” Sen. Gillibrand said.Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., also applauded the bill.“More robust crop insurance, dairy support, enhanced rural broadband, strong conservation, enhancing our food safety net, boosting specialty crops and organics — we worked had to craft this bipartisan Farm Bill that will help family farmers & NY’s diverse agricultural economy,” he said, according to a statement sent to the Times.U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, also said the bill achieved many of her goals.“Throughout this process I worked hard to ensure our district has a seat at the table, and I am pleased to report that this final bill includes many important wins for our north country farmers,” said Ms. Stefanik.Among the policies that Ms. Stefanik pointed to were grants and loans for rural broadband, the support for the Northern Border Regional Commission, funding for telemedicine options to fight opioid and heroin addiction. It also includes prioritizing grants to study the impact of invasive species, an amendment included by Ms. Stefanik. “I thank my colleagues on the conference committee for their work and for including my input in this final bill, and I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this critical legislation for our farmers,” Ms. Stefanik was quoted as saying in a news release.Beyond the updates to the MPP, however, the Farm Bill does not do much different from the prior Farm Bill.“The 2018 is a lot more like the 2014 bill than it is different from that bill,” Mr. Novakovic said.
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
Farm Bill leaves conference, passes Senate, headed for House

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Comments