Farm Bill Essentially Keeps Status-Quo with Relatively Little Change, Reflecting General SatisfactionFri, 14 Dec 2018 11:49:40 CST
On Monday December 10, 2018, the House and Senate conference committee released the conference report for the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018; the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill. On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, the Senate moved quickly to pass the conference report with a final vote in favor of the farm bill of 87 to 13. On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, the House voted overwhelming to pass the farm by 369 to 47. Given that it passed by veto-proof majorities, it is likely that the President will sign it and the Agricultural Act of 2018 will soon become law. University of Illinois’ web-based information system, farmdoc daily, published this week an initial review of the major provisions of the bill.
According to the review, after a contentious effort in the House and a stalemate in conference, the 2018 Farm Bill effectively continues much of the policies authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill with relatively little change. This status quo outcome was largely a result of multiple years of relatively lower crop prices, political realities and the constraints of the budget rules. It may also reflect general satisfaction with much of the current policy system.
One of the key changes to the Commodity Title, is the election between ARC and PLC, that in contrast to the previous bill, allows farmers to change the ARC/PLC election each year. In all elections, PLC remains the default option. However, an option is provided to update program yields for PLC and also includes changes to the calculation of yields for the ARC-CO program. For PLC, the statutory reference prices for covered commodities remain the same as in the 2014 Farm Bill, as amended to add seed cotton. The new bill, however, includes an escalator known as the effective reference price. The effective reference price is a feature from the House farm bill, which permits the statutory reference price to increase up to 115% of the statutory reference price.
The biggest issue for the conservation title going into conference was elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in the House farm bill. The conference committee negotiated a compromise though that eliminates it as a stand-alone, acreage-based program and combined it with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
The biggest area of controversy, however, was the House farm bill’s revisions to the SNAP program. The House sought to increase work requirements, alter category eligibility and other benefit calculations. As expected, the House conceded on all controversial changes to the SNAP and accepted the bipartisan Senate provisions in order to complete a farm bill. The conference agreement produced only minor revisions to the nutrition programs, including SNAP; total increase in spending of $98 million in the first five years but with no increase or decrease over the total 10 years in the budget window.
Read the complete review, by clicking here.
Source - farmdoc daily
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