If you’re a farmer who is interested in farm policy and the changes to the farm bill represented in the version passed out of the Senate Ag Committee last week, here’s an article that you won’t want to miss.
The Senate Ag Committee released its version of the next farm bill on Friday, June 8. The bill reauthorized programs that were set to expire with the 2018 crop year like the Agriculture Revenue Coverage (ARC) program, the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, several export programs like Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Access Program (MAP), and federal crop insurance.
This bill in the Senate will require a strong bipartisan vote and would represent an important step forward in the process, maybe even improving the bill’s chances in the House. You’ll remember, the House defeated their farm bill on the floor in May during a very partisan vote.
In the commodity title, the University of Illinois reports, “Producers are again required to make a five-year program election between ARC and PLC for the 2019 through the 2023 crop years; failure to make an election forfeits the 2019 crop year payments and defaults election to ARC. This marks a change from the 2014 Farm Bill election where PLC was the default program. Also, unlike the House Ag Committee bill, the individual coverage option for ARC (ARC-IC) is reauthorized by the Senate Ag Committee draft.”
The nutrition title, the place of most of the contention in the House, remained largely unchanged in this Senate version. This version contains only revisions to improve program operation and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse. The Senate draft appears to acknowledge that the program is working, experiencing a decrease in both spending and participation in an improving U.S. economy.
Regarding crop insurance, the bill clarified the requirement that farmers follow good farming practices to be eligible for crop insurance. And the bill “permits farmers to consolidate enterprise units across county lines. This would include consolidating enterprise units with all basic and optional units across counties lines. This revision could help lower premium costs to the farmer, in part by reducing risk because it would provide insurance coverage over larger, more diverse areas,” according to the University of Illinois.
If farm policy and the farm programs you end up with next year matter to you at all, you’ll want to read this article.
Coppess, J., G. Schnitkey, C. Zulauf, and N. Paulson. "Initial Review of the Senate Ag Committee's Draft 2018 Farm Bill." farmdoc daily (8):107, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, June 12, 2018.