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House Sends 2018 Farm Bill to President Trump for Signature

President Trump could sign the bill as soon as next week.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A day after a landslide Senate vote for the 2018 farm bill, the House approved the bill on an equally lopsided 369-47 roll call on Wednesday with Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway saying the bill will bring “five years of stability” in federal support to farmers grappling with low commodity price and trade war.

President Trump could sign the bill as soon as next week, Conaway said after the vote, possibly the largest victory ever for a farm bill in the House. Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson, the incoming chairman of the Agriculture Committee, said lawmakers will “spend a lot of time looking at how they (USDA) implement this bill.”

The bill would increase marketing loan rates and includes an escalator for PLC reference prices if commodity prices rise in the coming years. In 2019, growers would have the option to switch between PLC and ARC. That choice would be binding on 2019 and 2020 crops. After that, there would be an annual opportunity to change between PLC and ARC. Growers also will have the chance to update program yields in 2019. Lower premiums will be charged for the insurance-like dairy support program, and it will be easier to trigger payments.

The Conservation Reserve would expand to 27 million acres, an increase of 3 million acres, under the farm bill, with the cost offset by a lower rental payment to landowners. Funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program would expand while spending on the green-payment Conservation Stewardship Program would drop.

For producers struggling with a five-year-old slump in farm income, trade turmoil, and bad weather, “here are federal resources we are going to put against those issues,” said Conaway. “This bill does get at these issues.”

The farm-bill priority among farmers was maintenance of a strong crop insurance program, said Nebraska Rep Adrian Smith. “This bill accomplishes that objective.” Conaway and Peterson headed off House challenges to farm supports last summer, quashing the hopes of fiscal hawks and reformers to pare crop insurance benefits. Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, who voted against the farm bill, called crop insurance “grotesquely expensive” and of little value to most farmers and ranchers.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

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