Volume 115.16 | June 29, 2018
UPDATED: U.S. Senate Adopts Farm Bill
Yesterday the U.S. Senate adopted 86-11 , H.R. 2 (Substituted by S. 3042 the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill)). The House adopted their version of a Farm Bill last week. A Conference Committee will likely convene the week of July 9 when members of Congress return from the July 4th holiday break to begin working out the differences between the two versions and combine them into a Conference Committee Report. Staff of the respective chamber's Agriculture Committees will begin work July 2.

In yesterday's floor action on the Farm Bill, the U.S. Senate voted to table an amendment, #3383, (Sens Kennedy, Cruz, Lee) that would have changed work requirements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). A similar provision did pass in the House version of the Farm Bill. Extending work requirements is now likely to become a main contentious issue in the Conference Committee.

Senators also defeated an amendment offered by Senator Lee (R-UT) 35-52 that would have prohibited some practices for agriculture checkoff programs and promoted transparency.

An amendment to allow haying and grazing of lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program under certain conditions offered by Senator Thune (R-SD) was agreed to by voice vote.

Senators worked behind the scenes to reach unanimous consent agreement on 16 additional floor amendments. They include:

  • Sen Isakson (R-GA) 3348: Modifies the provision relating to economic adjustment assistance for upland cotton users, to provide payment for losses relating to peach and blueberry crops, and to strike the provision relating to the use of Commodity Credit Corporation.

  • Sen Wyden (D-OR) 3346: Provides that research and extension grants may be made for the purposes of researching hop plant health.

  • Sen Enzi (R-WY) 3181: increases funding for Rural Energy for America Program for $20 million to $50 million annually. through 2023.

  • Sen King (I-ME) 3221:requires the Secretary of Agriculture to submit to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate a report that describes the funding necessary to adequately address the needs of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

  • Sen Gillibrand (D-NY) 3390: Prohibist the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption).

  • Sen Heinrich (D-NM) 3287: Requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on--(1) the market impact of traditional foods, Tribally produced products, and products that use traditional foods; (2) fraudulent foods that mimic traditional foods or Tribal seeds that are available in the commercial marketplace.(To modify the study of marketplace fraud of traditional foods).

  • Sen Rubio (R-FL) 3364: Prohibits the use of funds to carry out programs in Cuba in contravention of the National Security Presidential Memorandum prohibiting transactions with entities owned, controlled, or operated by or on behalf of military intelligence or security services of Cuba.

  • Sen Sullivan (R-AK) 3303: Ensures Sedretary of Agriculture enforces the Buy American provisions applicable to domestic food assistance programs administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, including, for use in those domestic food assistance programs, the purchase of a fish or fish products harvested within U.S. waters.

  • Sen Hirono (D-HI) 3321: Modifies the Qualifying Natural Disaster Declarations to include under the non-insured crop assistance program losses suffered in a county covered by a qualifying natural disaster declaration for production losses due to volcanic activity.

  • Sen Cortez Masto (D-NV) 3388: Establishes the Council on Rural Communities Innovation and Economic Development.

  • Sen Durbin (D-IL) 3389: Reauthorizes the rural emergency medical services training and equipment assistance program under the section 330 J of the Public Health Service Act.

  • Sen Brown (D-OH) 3323: Modifies amounts that are appropriated to Extension & Agricultural Research at 1890 Land Grant Colleges to ensure that an eligible institution receiving a distribution of funds for fiscal year 2019, 2020, 2021, or 2022, as applicable, receives not less than the amount of funds received by that eligible institution for the preceding fiscal year.''

  • Sen Cantwell (D-WA) 3365: To avert the waiving of liability for a utility whose line clearing work ignites a wildfire.

  • Sen Moran (R-KS) 3171: The Secretary of Agriculture is required to consider a 1-time request to calculate a separate actual crop revenue and agriculture risk coverage guarantee for irrigated and non-irrigated covered commodities.

  • Sen Thune (R-SD) 3371: Provides that producers may change their election to participate in agriculture risk coverage or price loss coverage in the 2021 crop year.

  • Grassley (R-IA) : Defines the term `significant contribution of active personal management' on a farm means active personal management activities performed by a person with a direct or indirect ownership interest in the farming operation on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis to the farming operation, and that meet at least one of the following to be considered significant: ``(A) Are performed for at least 25 percent of the total management hours required for the farming operation on an annual basis.``(B) Are performing for at least 500 hours annually for the farming operation.''. The Secretary shall consider not more than 1 person or legal entity per farming operation to be actively engaged in farming using active personal management. The Secretary may only consider a person or legal entity to be actively engaged in farming using active personal management.

S .3042 maintains a number of beneficial provisions including, but not limited to:

Dairy

  • extends current law for the Dairy Forward Pricing Program through 2023,
  • extends current law for the Dairy Indemnity Program through 2023,
  • extends current law for the Dairy Promotion and Research Program through 2023,
  • amends the formula for determining the prices for milk of the highest use classification for Class I milk, and
  • establishes and administers a milk donation program to reimburse eligible dairy organizations costs incurred for donating milk by accounting to the Federal Milk Marketing Order pool.

Supplemental Disaster Assistance

  • allows coverage under the Livestock Indemnity Program of unweaned livestock which have not been vaccinated,
  • requires a reimbursement of 75 percent of the losses for beginning farmers, ranchers and veterans under the Tree Assistance Program.

Conservation

  • Amends the transition incentives program to authorize transition from contract holders to existing covered farmers and ranchers beginning 2 years before contract termination. 
  • Also authorizes a short -term lease as a transition option, establishes a priority for certain land for enrollment in the transition program and provides for re-enrollment of grassland in the same. 
  • Authorizes Conservation Reserve Easements
  • Authorizes the Conservation Stewardship Program through 2023. Directs the Secretary to rank applications based upon certain conservation and environmental benefits, the increase of those benefits and relative cost. The Secretary is authorized to consider improved conservation activities on operations as well as operations that will demonstrate improvement when renewing the contract for anadditional 5 year period. Reauthorizes the acreage enrollment limitation through September 30, 2028 at 8.797 million acres (down from current 10 million acres).
 
  • Extends the Environmental Quality Incentives Program through FY2023. Limits contracts for wildlife practices at no more than 10 years, including practices that incentivize for seasonal wetlands for waterfowl and migratory birds.Creates a floor for the amount of payment made in advance for certain producers and requires those advanced funds advanced to be expended within 180 days or be returned to the Secretary, and allows for an opt-out on advance payment. Allocates at least 50 percent of the funds for practices relating to livestock production and includes grazing. At least 10 percent of funds are allocated for wildlife habitat. Increases the organic payment limit to $160,000 for fiscal years 2019 - 2023.Authorizes a Micro-EQIP pilot program in 10 states regarding small scale agricultural producers.purposes. 

Trade
 
  • Consolidates the Market Access Program, the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program, the E. (Kika) D e La Garza Agricultural Fellowship Program, and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops to create a new Priority Trade Promotion, Development, and Assistance program.
 
Nutrition

  • Extends authorization of appropriations for purchases of Specialty Crops for Nutrition Programs through fiscal year 2023
 
  • Extends authorization of appropriations for Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program through fiscal year 2023.
 
Rural Development

  • Prioritizes rural water technical assistance and training to communities affected by emerging contaminants detected in drinking water and surface water supplies, while also increasing the percentage of overall funding that can be reserved for the Rural Water and Wastewater Technical Assistance and Training Program.
 
  • Includes matching grants as eligible funding mechanisms for broadband deployment in rural areas. It codifies USDA’s current definition of minimum acceptable broadband service of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream, while prioritizing funding to areas that have no existing residential broadband service. It requires that for an area to be eligible for funding; 90% of the households in the proposed service territory be underserved; that not more than 2 incumbent service providers exist in the area; extends to 30 days the time broadband providers may submit information concerning existing service in a proposed area; and reauthorizes the program at $150 million for each year 2019 through 2023.
 
Research

  • Allows for federally supported research, extension, and education to collaborate internationally in order to leverage resources and advance domestic food and agriculture interests.
 
  • Reauthorizes the citrus disease subcommittee of the specialty crops committee.
 
  • Reauthorizes the agricultural research, education, and extension activities for biosecurity planning and response.
 
  • Reauthorizes the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and provides mandatory funding of $40 million in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, $45 million for fiscal year 2021, and $50 million for fiscal year 22 and each fiscal year thereafter.
 
  • Reauthorizes the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and includes additional critical needs as areas of focus. Eliminates mandatory funding set aside for citrus disease research.
 
  • Reauthorizes the Office of Pest Management Policy.
 
Forestry

  • Establishes a competitive grant program for financial and technical assistance to encourage collaborative, science-based restoration of priority forest landscapes. The program requires collaboration and consultation regarding the identification of other applicable resources towards landscape‐scale restoration. $20 million is authorized to be appropriated each fiscal year through 2023.
 
  • Establishes a grant program to State foresters to carry out hazardous fuel reduction projects across landscapes on Federal and non-Federal land. Requires State foresters to consult with owners of State, county, tribal and private landowners to carryout out cross-boundary hazardous fuels reduction projects. $20 million is authorized to be appropriated each year through 2023.
 
  • Establishes a cap of 3,000 acres for projects utilizing the categorical exclusion for both the Secretary of Agriculture, with respect to National Forest System land, and the Secretary for the Department, with respect to public land, for certain forest management activities with the primary purpose of protecting, restoring, or improving habitat for the greater sage-grouse or mule deer.
 
  • Expands the use of Good Neighbor Authority to tribes and for use of Good Neighbor agreements on tribal land.
 
  • Extends the authority of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and provides authorization for appropriations at $80 million annually through 2023.  
 
Specialty Crops

  • The Plant Pest & Disease and Disaster Management Program and National Clean Plant Network is extended at $75 million annually.

  • Reauthorizes the Specialty Crop Block Grants Program through FY 2023. Updates the State plan to set performance measures for an evaluation and provide best practices to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Requires the Secretary to provide guidance regarding best practices and national and regional priorities, based on stakeholder input, prior to the submission of State plans. Adds an valuation based on performance measures to the audit requirements. Increases the administrative cap to 4 percent of funds for the Secretary and 9 percent of funds for States.

  • Requires that the changes made to organic import certificates and data collection, accreditation of foreign certifying agents, and investigations be carried out in a manner consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements.
 
  • Provides $11.5 million in mandatory funding to the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program for each fiscal year in FY19 through FY23.
 
  • Increases the authorization for the National Organic Program to $16.5M in FY2019, $18M in FY2020, $20M in FY2021, $22M in FY2022, and $24M in FY2023. Provides $5 million in mandatory funding for the modernization of trade tracking and data collection systems. 
 
Hemp Production
 
  • Amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to allow states to regulate hemp growth and production, based on a state or tribal plan that includes information on locations of hemp production, testing for THC concentration, disposal of plants that are out of compliance, and negligence or other violations of the state or tribal plan. Requires states and tribes without USDA approved plans to follow federal laws and regulations promulgated by USDA on hemp production.

Crop insurance

  • Modifies the Federal Crop Insurance Act to update the role of the Specialty Crop Coordinator and requires a Specialty Crop Liaison in each regional office. Amends section 508(a)(6) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act to require the manager of the Corporation to prepare and present annually to the Board for review research and development of insurance for a new crop, expansion of existing insurance to additional counties or States, and research and development for a new policy or plan of insurance for crops with existing insurance. 

Livestock

  • Establishes a National Animal Disease Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Program to be carried out by USDA through cooperative agreements with partners from states, universities, industries and other entities to address animal health challenges. 
 
  • Establishes a National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank for acquiring vaccine and veterinary countermeasures needed to respond to devastating animal disease outbreaks. 
 
  • Authorizes such sums as necessary to be appropriated for the National Animal Disease Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Program and the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank.

The Trump Administration sent their Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) to the Senate yesterday saying the Senate Farm Bill needed revisions but stopped short of threatening a veto of the legislation. Click here to read the Administration SAP .

Click here to review the text of the Managers Substitute Amendment of the Farm Bill, S. 3042, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released the estimated cost of the Senate version of the Farm Bill. CBO estimates that enacting the bill would
bring total spending for those USDA programs to $428 billion over the 2019-2023 period and $867 billion over the 2019-2028 period.

House Farm Bill

The U.S. House adopted H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, (Farm Bill), 213-211 on June 21. Twenty Republicans joined 191 Democrats in opposing HR 2.

To review the U.S. House version of the 2019 Farm Bill, click on H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018,

Click here to review the section-by-section of the House version of the 2019 Farm Bill.

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