The U.S. Senate last week passed its version of the 2018 farm bill in an 86-to-11 vote. Like the House farm bill, the Senate version is evolutionary in the sense it retains much of current commodity programs but tweaks some of the minutiae.
Under the bill, producers would be required to make a new election to obtain Price Loss Coverage (PLC) or Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), either county or individual for crop years 2019 through 2023. Under ARC, the senate bill requires payments to be based on the physical location of the farm. Also, the bill requires the USDA is to assign yield data for ARC from a single source which provides the greatest national coverage of county-level data. And the bill reduces the adjusted gross income limitation on program payments from $900,000 to $700,000. On the conservation side, the Senate bill would increase the maximum acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program to 25 million acres—the current maximum is 24 million acres.
The Senate measure will now go to a conference committee where Senate and House negotiators will iron out the differences between the Senate and House bills. The biggest differences between the two measures concern food stamps and conservation programs. The House bill would impose work requirements on persons seeking food stamps, while the senate version does not. The Senate bill also retains several conservation programs while the House revamped the programs. A conference report must be approved by both chambers to become law. The current farm programs will expire this year.
Jay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and a firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide an in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.