The legislative process leading to the next farm bill has been well underway. The current 2014 farm bill will end in September 2018. Numerous hearings and listening sessions have taken place by both the House and Senate. A committee in each chamber then drafts the initial legislation. This has already been completed in the House and is underway in the Senate.
On April 18, 2018, the House Agriculture Committee was the first to approve a new farm bill when they passed The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (HR 2). The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 was then passed on to the full House. The full House then considered the bill during May 16-18, 2018, including adopting a number of amendments to the proposed bill. On May 18, 2018, however, the House rejected the proposed farm bill by a vote of 198-213. All Democrats and 30 Republicans voted against the bill. The Democrat opposition was primarily due to changes in the nutrition program, while the Republican opposition was due to a separate immigration issue. The next attempt to pass the farm bill in the House will be with a vote scheduled for June 22, 2018.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry continues to work on their version of the farm bill. It is expected that the Committee will release their version during the first two weeks of June. Once the bill makes it to the full Senate it will take 60 votes to pass. This means that some form of bipartisanship must exist to pass a farm bill.
The goal of both Congress and the President remains to have the new farm bill completed this year. Debate in both the House and Senate is expected to be contentious, however, where Democrats are opposed to the proposed farm bill revisions in the nutrition title. There is also, as always, likely to be debate on payment limits and payment eligibility. Crop insurance has also drawn attention.
A factsheet titled House Ag Committee Farm Bill Proposal and Seed Cotton Program FSA Timeline was published on May 14, 2018. This document discusses some of the changes in the House Agriculture Committee proposal compared to the current 2014 farm bill, discusses the remaining farm bill process, and provides updates to the timeline for the generic base conversion and the seed cotton program. Please note that this document does not contain information on amendments approved by the House during the May 16-18, 2018 debate.
More information can be found at Georgia Agricultural Policy Webpage.
Good luck and let us know if we can help,
Adam N. Rabinowitz1, Don Shurley2 and Yangxuan Liu2
1UGA Extension Economist; 2UGA Cotton Economist