When the Farm Bill, formally called the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, passed in both the U.S. House and Senate earlier this year, there was much optimism that the final legislation would be passed before the current Farm Bill expired on September 30th. But unfortunately, no such bill has been passed. The expiration date has come and gone and debate marches on. The four primary Farm Bill negotiators, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX), Senate Agriculture Committee ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and House Agriculture Committee ranking Democrat Collin Peterson (D-MN), have yet to come to an agreement on the various differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. One of the areas presenting a particular challenge revolves around a provision of the House version of the bill requiring more stringent SNAP work requirements. Other contentious issues include changes to the conservation title and making sure there are no detrimental changes to the crop insurance program. Consequently, the Farm Bill may not be fully addressed until the Lame Duck congressional session after Election Day.
Passing a Farm Bill this year is critically important. That is why we are asking our farm and ranch members to reach out to their Congressional delegation. We need to impress upon our U.S. Representatives and Senators that they can help our industry by communicating with Agriculture Committee leadership, urging them to finalize a conference report and move the bill to a vote as soon as possible. Additionally, our elected officials need to hear how important Farm Bill programs and resources are to providing certainty for planning, as well a means to surviving economic crises that arise due to market conditions and natural disasters. As farmers and ranchers, your outreach and personal messages make a difference.
Reach out to your members of Congress today! It’s easy – just go to www.azfb.org and visit the Action Center under the Public Policy tab. With just a few clicks, you can send your elected officials a message explaining why we need a Farm Bill and we need it now.