Farmers and ranchers woke up Thursday to the welcome news that House and Senate agriculture committee leaders have reached an agreement in principle on the next farm bill.
With the last farm bill expiring on Sept. 30 and control in the House and House Agriculture Committee flipping to Democrats when a new Congress takes its seat in January, farm groups have urged Congress to pass new farm policy before the end of the year.
In an early morning press statement, the conference committee leaders said they are committed to delivering a new farm bill as quickly as possible
“We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as CBO (Congressional Budget Office) scores, but we still have more work to do,” they stated.
A press secretary for the Senate Agriculture Committee told Capital Press she couldn’t divulge any specifics on the agreement as the conference committee is waiting on CBO scores and things could change.
American Farm Bureau Federation said the announcement that a bill is moving forward is good news amid a prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy.
“Continued access to risk-management tools, assistance in foreign market development and conservation and environmental stewardship programs within the legislation are especially important for farmers and ranchers,” Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, said in a press statement.
“These programs will help provide certainty to rural America at a time when it is much needed given the financial headwinds so many family farms now face,” he said.
There are also challenges outside the farm bill, including available labor, burdensome overregulation and lost market share in foreign markets, and AFBF urges Congress to continue working on those issues, he said.
National Farmers Union said while the final details of the bill have yet to be released, it is optimistic relief from the lapsed 2014 Farm Bill might soon arrive.
“Getting a farm bill through the finish line before the end of the year is critical for the long-term viability and sustainability of family farmers and ranchers across the country,” Roger Johnson, NFU president, said in a press statement.
“Farmers are enduring a growing financial crisis in the farm economy, and programs that support farm sustainability and diverse markets for family farmers have expired,” he said.
National Association of Wheat Growers applauded farm bill negotiators for moving the process forward.
“This past year our growers have dealt with the impact of the trade war between the U.S. and China, extreme weather conditions and a struggling rural economy and more,” Jimmie Musick, NAWG president, said in a statement.
“Farm bill support programs provide them with some certainty during these volatile times,” he said.
National Milk Producers Federation has urged Congress to make passing a farm bill a top priority in the lame duck session.
“We’re pleased to hear from top farm bill negotiators that an agreement on a farm bill that will make significant, and necessary, reforms to dairy policy is near,” Alan Bjerga, NMPF senior vice president of communications, said.
“We’re eager to help in whatever way we can to get legislation that helps dairy producers over the finish line,” he said.