The 2018 Farm Bill will expire in September 2023. Farm Bureau has long been a major player in developing this important piece of legislation, and Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) members have regularly helped shape the policy priorities of American Farm Bureau (AFBF). Congress has begun early discussions on developing the next Farm Bill and we need NEFB members to help formulate new policy priorities for the organization.
The 2018 Farm Bill or Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 was signed into law by former President Donald Trump on December 20, 2018. This bill reauthorized $867 billion in funding for farm, food, conservation, trade, and energy programs. While the last bill ran into sizable political problems as it made its way through Congress, the largely “evolutionary” vs. “revolutionary” bill provided a needed safety-net for farm and ranch families.
As debate begins on the next farm bill, decisions over our organization’s top spending priorities, Title I program changes, Title II expansion, climate, disaster programs, and dairy programs all must be made. While the budget baseline for the next bill will likely hit over $1 trillion, a vast majority of that funding will remain in the bill’s nutrition title rather than farm and conservation programs.
FARM BUREAU POLICY
AFBF Policy Book
Section 2-FARM POLICY/TRADE
- Maintaining funding for federal crop insurance was our top priority during the last few Farm Bills. Does it remain our top priority?
- Given current commodity prices, Title I programs such as ARC and PLC remain very unlikely to trigger a payment given the reference prices used to trigger payments. Should Farm Bureau join with other agricultural organizations in pushing for an increase to those reference prices?
- The budget baseline will likely hit over $1 trillion for the next farm bill. With more fiscally conservative Republicans looking to make gains in both the House and the Senate, a bill with such a high price tag could meet some resistance. Should we prioritize any of the following titles: commodity programs, conservation programs, crop insurance, energy, rural development, etc.?
- The vast majority of conservation title funding is comprised of the CRP, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP). Do we want to prioritize funding between those three programs? Do we want to make any changes to those programs?
- Last year, policy was added to the AFBF policy book supporting making permeant the per-acre cover crop discount on crop insurance premiums. Some worry this could open the door for adding other requirements (climate?) that may lower crop insurance premiums but would add new regulations to crop insurance policies. Should we eliminate/clarify that language in the AFBF policy book?
- The floods of 2019 and the wildfires over the past few years have exposed some holes in current USDA disaster programs (flooded hay/forage, slow administration of the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), etc.). Should current permanent disaster assistance programs be modified to fix those issues?
- New and beginning farmer programs continue to suffer from a lack of funding and offer loans for relatively low amounts. Do we want to increase the loan levels? Do we support increasing the overall program budget? How does this fit in our overall priorities?
- House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member G.T. Thompson (R-PA) has recently proposed adding a “margin program” similar to what currently exists in the dairy industry to the list of Title I programs. Is that something we would support?
- Farm Bureau policy has historically favored permanent programs such as crop insurance and other traditional USDA disaster programs rather than ad hoc payments. However, recent natural disasters, trade war, and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the release of significant ad hoc payments for farmers and ranchers. House Agriculture Committee Chairman, David Scott (D-GA) has proposed creating a larger permanent disaster program. While the 2008 Farm Bill included a permanent disaster program known as SURE, that was discontinued in the 2014 Farm Bill, should NEFB support the creation of another permanent program to cover disaster losses rather than ad hoc payments?