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Congress Approves 2018 Farm Bill

December 12, 2018
Press Release
“Farm Country has waited long enough, and today Congress delivered.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 369-47 to pass the 2018 Farm Bill, Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 2 - Agriculture Improvement Act. The legislation now heads to President Trump for his signature into law.

“Farm Country has waited long enough, and today Congress delivered,” said Rep. Newhouse. “As a third-generation Yakima Valley farmer, I know the Farm Bill plays an enormously important role in Central Washington’s agriculture economy by delivering a secure safety net for farmers and providing for research that keeps us on the cutting edge of global innovation. Farmers are struggling with a 50-percent drop in net farm income over the past five years, which is why market access programs and crop insurance are critical to providing certainty for agriculture producers. While some improvements were made, I would have preferred to include stronger provisions to improve nutrition programs and forestry management. Farmers needed action sooner rather than later. I applaud Chairman Conaway for his hard work in getting this bill across the finish line.”

2018 Farm Bill Conference Report Highlights:

  • Study to include hops in crop insurance: The Conference Report includes language making hops eligible for crop insurance and directs the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board (FCIC) to streamline the process for developing hop insurance policies. The bill requires FCIC to submit a report on hops policies one year after the enactment to the Agricultural Committees that describes the results of the policy developments along with any recommendations.
  • Dairy protection: The Conference Report renames the dairy Margin Protection Program to Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and builds on the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) investment by offering new coverage levels for the first 5 million pounds of production, drastically reducing premiums on catastrophic coverage levels for larger producers, and eliminating the restriction between the margin program (formerly MPP, now DMC) and Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance.
  • Expedites environmental reviews to protect our forests:  The conference report encourages proper management for healthy and productive federal, state, and private forests and incentivizes infrastructure and new market opportunities to revitalize communities and healthy landscapes. The conference report simplifies environmental reviews while still ensuring robust protection of the environment.

Click here to read additional highlights of the Conference Report.

Click here to read a summary of the Conference Report.

Click here to read the Conference Report text.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH REP. NEWHOUSE SPEAK IN SUPPORT OF THE 2018 FARM BILL

Transcript:

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year—as the House considered its version of the Farm Bill—I spoke in this chamber about a Farm Bill listening tour that I had conducted in my own District, traveling to every county that I represent to hear from and listen to input and the concerns from farmers, ranchers, and producers across the State of Washington. In the days since then the House passed that bill early this summer, there has been growing concern that the job would not get done—that the 2014 Farm Bill would expire and that our nation’s Farm Country would be left without the crucial tools this legislation provides to strengthen the farm safety net and provide certainty and flexibility to America’s farmers and ranchers.

Fortunately, with the legislation before us today, we can report that this is not the case. After months of painstaking negotiations between the House and Senate conferees, we have an agreement before us. This agreement, while not including several provisions that I would have liked to have seen, sets us on a better path for our farmers and ranchers, for our rural communities, for small businesses, and for consumers across the country at the grocery store and at kitchen tables.

With this conference agreement to the Farm Bill, I can go back to my District and confidently report to my constituents that we have provided a strong foundation to help our farmers survive a 50-percent drop in net farm income over the past five years. I can go back to Okanogan County and tell my constituents in Pateros that we have strengthened market access programs and provided strong resources to open new sources for exporting across the globe. I can tell farmers in Grant County that we have protected crop insurance and made several key improvements, including for whole farm revenue coverage for specialty crop producers. I can tell dairy producers in Yakima County that we have improved the dairy safety net for large, mid-sized, and small dairies. I can report back to producers in Prosser in Benton County, who stressed the importance of agricultural research, that we have provided an increase in funding for research, for extension, and for education projects. 

With the bill before us, I can let key agricultural partners in our community like Washington State University know that we will keep American agriculture at the forefront of innovation and productivity. Farmers from East Wenatchee will hear from me that this Farm Bill invests in critical cost-share and incentive-based programs to help farm families improve our soil, water, and other natural resources. And I can tell farmers in Othello in Adams County, concerned with the regulatory burdens on their shoulders, that this legislation protects our producers from costly additional, unnecessary red tape.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today as a third-generation farmer to say that this Farm Bill takes strong steps to address challenges facing America’s agricultural community. The rule we bring before the House provides for further consideration of the Conference Report to H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, legislation that is critically important to my District in Central Washington, and to rural districts across this great country. 

This legislation maintains and strengthens important policies like Price Loss Coverage, Agriculture Risk Coverage, Commodity Loans, Dairy Margin Coverage, Livestock Disaster Programs, and Crop Insurance. It enhances and permanently funds the Foreign Market Development Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, which are so vital for export-driven agricultural economies like my State of Washington has. It increases funding for land grant universities, research, extension, and education, as well as special research initiatives, including for specialty crops and organic research. This legislation makes strides to expand quality broadband to all of rural America by including forward-looking standards to ensure that we are meeting next-generation rural broadband needs. It also improves the tools available to reduce forest fuel loads that increase the size and force of catastrophic wildfires. By renewing key categorical exclusions and expanding its purpose to allow for expedited reduction of hazardous fuels in our forests, we can continue to reduce the threat that these wildfires pose on rural communities.

Mr. Speaker, with support from the 2014 Farm Bill, American farmers have been able to combat depressed prices and severe drops in farm income, but they would not have been able to do so without a robust safety net in place. The Conference Report before us will build upon this effort and ensure a steady food supply will be on the shelves and in our markets for years to come. As I mentioned, it doesn’t include everything I would have liked to have seen in this bill—but in reality no piece of legislation is perfect, particularly comprehensive bills that have been negotiated for months. But the fact of the matter is, this Farm Bill includes important and significant wins for American farmers and ranchers, and it is now our responsibility to get the job done.

Mr. Speaker, the People’s House has more than 20 farmers, ranchers, and producers serving in this body.  Among us are a dairyman from Central California, a blueberry farmer from Maine, a rancher from South Dakota, two rice farmers—one from California and another from Minnesota—a cattleman from Kentucky, an almond farmer from California, and yes—a proud hops farmer from the Yakima Valley of Washington state. This is the first Farm Bill that I have had the opportunity to engage in since being in Congress, Mr. Speaker. I’ve spent my whole life on the farm—and my life in public service, including serving as Washington State’s Director of the Department of Agriculture, has been spent working on behalf of American farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and families. It is an honor today to bring this rule forward for the Conference Report to Accompany the Farm Bill—H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act. I humbly urge my colleagues to support the rule, support the bill, and strengthen the future for America’s farmers and all those who depend upon them.