Farm Bill Moves Forward

April 26, 2018

House May Vote on Farm Bill by Middle of Next Month

Courtesy of California Farm Bureau Federation - Ag Alert
Issue Date: April 25, 2018
Original content by Christine Souza, edited by San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau

Important issues for California agriculture include escalating employment costs and the challenge of finding enough employees. California Farm Bureau Federation legislative associate Sara Neagu-Reed said some solutions can be found in the House farm bill.

"During such difficult times in retaining and finding a workforce, we are pleased to see prioritization language for research related to mechanization included in the AFRI (Agriculture and Food Research Initiative) program," Neagu-Reed said, adding that CFBF hopes the lack of funding or specific priority language within the Specialty Crop Research Initiative in the House bill will be addressed.

"Mechanization research is a priority for labor-intensive crops, and we now look to the Senate to determine the best technical route forward to increase research resources flowing to this need," Neagu-Reed said.

Now that the House Agriculture Committee has passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, federal policy analysts say they are hopeful House and Senate conferees can work in a bipartisan manner and reach an agreement on a new farm bill—and soon.

The bill is expected to see action on the House floor in early to mid-May.

H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, was approved by the House Agriculture Committee by a party-line vote last week.

Related to dairy producers in California, CFBF legislative analyst Corinne Madison said the House bill makes changes to the Margin Protection Program for dairy, now rebranded as the Dairy Risk Management Protection Program. These include changes that do not meet the needs of California dairy farmers, Madison said.

"It is difficult to convey the size and uniqueness of California's dairy industry to some of the representatives on the House Ag Committee, so unfortunately the changes made to the existing MPP won't have too much of an impact on our members," she said. "A useful provision for California dairies is the ability to sign up for both the Livestock Gross Margin Program as well as the Dairy Risk Management Program."

Related to egg producers, Madison said the committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that would block states from regulating agricultural products that are also produced in other states.

"If passed on the House floor, this amendment will have repercussions not only for California egg producers, but also for those in other states who have invested in Proposition 2-compliant production systems," she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected that 75 percent of all egg production will have to shift to cage-free by 2026 to meet public demand, making the King amendment a waste of time and money for American egg producers, Madison added.

Related to crop insurance, CFBF will continue to oppose caps or limits being applied to adjusted gross income for crop insurance premium assistance, and will oppose means testing and payment limitations for crop insurance. The House bill would retain the Whole Farm Revenue Program as a pilot program, as CFBF requested.

Todd Snider, an agent at Personal Ag Management Insurance Services in Bakersfield, said, "The best thing for California is what's not in the farm bill," meaning that the House bill does not contain any AGI means testing or caps that had been introduced. Snider, a Kern County Farm Bureau director, added that he expects these could be introduced once the bill reaches the House floor for debate.

"Either of these would adversely impact California growers, so as of now I am very pleased to not have them as part of the new farm bill," Snider said.

Related to Rural Development, Madison said Farm Bureau is "looking at ways to expand (the agency's) efforts to also address groundwater quality."

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at

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