The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. It is typically renewed about every five years. The farm bill provides a basic level of protection to help farms survive market fluctuations and harmful weather. The next farm bill must maintain the farm safety net and other programs that are vital to farmers and ranchers, consumers, rural development and the environment.
Farm programs are written to provide a basic level of risk protection to help offset bad economic times and severe weather. No one buys insurance for the good times, and similarly, farm bill programs provide critical tools to help farmers manage risk. A thriving agricultural economy benefits all Americans, and depends on a sound farm bill.
The 2014 Farm Bill contains 12 titles: commodity price and income supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, energy, and foreign and domestic food programs, among others. During consideration of the 2014 Farm Bill, cuts were made to many programs resulting in a savings of $16.6 billion over ten years. According to the most recent Congressional Budget Office estimate, the cost of the current bill has fallen another $16 billion.
Farm Bureau supports the following principles to guide development of programs in the next farm bill, including:
- Protecting current Farm Bill program spending;
- Maintaining a unified farm bill which includes nutrition programs and farm programs together;
- Any changes to current farm legislation be an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 or the Agricultural Act of 1949; and
- Risk management tools which include both federal crop insurance and commodity programs as top funding priorities.
Dairy farmers continue to be challenged by milk price volatility and higher input costs, which often results in very tight margins, particularly in times of low milk prices. Unfortunately, the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP), implemented in the last farm bill, has not helped dairy farmers as the industry intended. As a result, there has been much discussion regarding how to improve MPP and help dairy farmers. Specific to the farm bill, Farm Bureau supports:
- Changes to the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) to provide producers more flexibility and better coverage;
- Expansion of the current Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) dairy program.
Additional farm bill priorities for the next farm bill include conservation, specialty crops, livestock, energy, rural development, trade, credit, and research.
Additionally, AFBF President Zippy Duvall appointed a group of 16 state Farm Bureau staff members and two AFBF staff to serve on a Farm Bill Working Group. The Working Group’s charge has been to examine the issues, information gaps and analysis needs to ensure we are ready to engage in the development of a new farm bill. Learn more about farm bill issues – including dairy, commodity programs, livestock programs, crop insurance, conservation and more – at www.fb.org/issues/farm-bill.
Farm Bureau asks Congress to pass a robust 2018 Farm Bill in a timely manner in order to provide certainty to America’s farmers and consumers.