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Blog | May 23, 2018

The Latest Updates on the 2018 Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is a huge, complex piece of legislation (as our Farm Bill 101 makes clear), and its path through Congress will be filled with twists and turns. We’re closely following this journey, looking at how the proposed bills in the House and Senate will impact farmers, eaters, and residents of rural communities. Over the coming months, Farm Aid will keep this post updated with the latest news on the Farm Bill and opportunities to speak up to improve it.


July 30

House Leaves for Recess

The House left on Thursday, July 26, for a month-long summer recess. That means the first public meeting of the House Farm Bill conference committee won’t take place until after Labor Day, at the earliest. The Senate shortened their recess, given their to-do list, to just one week, but nonetheless their Farm Bill plans are running behind schedule too. Next steps in the Senate include a vote to start formal farm bill conference talks and the naming of conferees, but there’s a challenge there because more lawmakers want to be on the panel than there are seats available.


July 18:

Farm Bill House Conferees Announced

A whopping number of members (47!) of the House of Representatives will join the Farm Bill conference committee. The bloated committee surpasses what we normally see in the farm bill process and hints at the need to garner support from a variety of stakeholders in order to reconcile the House’s hyper-partisan farm bill with that of the Senate. The House conferee list is below. Pay close attention for members of Congress in your state and districts, as you may be able to influence the final bill for the better in important ways:

The 47 House Conferees

Agriculture Committee
Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX)
Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA)
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Austin Scott (R-GA)
Rick Crawford (R-AR)
Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Ted Yoho (R-FL)
David Rouzer (R-NC)
Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
David Scott (D-GA)
Jim Costa (D-CA)
Tim Walz (D-MN.)
Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Filemon Vela (D-TX)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
Ann Kuster (D-NH)
Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ)

Education and Workforce Committee
Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Rick Allen (R-GA)
Alma Adams (D-NC)

Energy and Commerce Committee
John Shimkus (R-IL)
Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
Paul Tonko (D-NY)

Financial Services Committee
Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
Sean Duffy (R-WI)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)

Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Mark Walker (R-NC)
James Comer (R-KY)
Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.)

Natural Resources Committee
Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Bruce Westerman (R-AR)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)

Science, Space and Technology Committee
Ralph Abraham (R-LA)
Neal Dunn (R-FL)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Jeff Denham (R-CA)
Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)

The Senate will be announcing its anticipated 7 conferees soon. We’ve got our ear to the ground as the conference process begins, so stay tuned for opportunities to Take Action for a better Farm Bill!


June 21:

The House Farm Bill Sneaks By

On June 21, the House voted 213-211 to pass its version of the farm bill (H.R. 2). The troublesome bill was unchanged from the original version, crafted in an extremely partisan fashion. In the end, 20 Republicans joined all House Democrats in voting no. It is worth noting that all the egregious flaws that led to the bill’s failure to pass on its first floor vote (the second time this ever happened in history) still remain, leaving a difficult path ahead for the conference process once the Senate finishes its version of the bill.


June 28:

Bipartisan Senate Farm Bill Passes with Flying Colors

In stark contrast to the House Agriculture Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) were committed to a bipartisan process in crafting a farm bill that serves the needs of diverse stakeholders. In the end, the bill passed the Senate floor 86-11, with a swift passage that could make a final bill possible before the 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018.

In total, the Senate Bill:

Reins in corporate loopholes in key commodity and crop insurance programs that have allowed the biggest farms to get bigger.

Supports rural economies with critical funding to conservation programs that safeguard natural resources and reinstates the Undersecretary of Rural Development at the USDA.

Supports local and regional food systems, promotes innovative farming and marketing systems, and supports beginning farmers and ranchers, farmers of color and veteran farmers with increased mandatory funding and program improvements.

Protects hungry Americans by funding critical nutrition assistance programs and supports programs that encourage healthy food access for poor, elderly and disabled Americans.

It is worth noting that while the Senate Farm Bill makes critical improvements over the House Farm Bill, neither bill will adequately address the current farm crisis in the countryside. Both bills fail to establish fair farm prices and supply management programs that are needed to support America’s farmers and ranchers over the long-term. While important programs of all kinds have secured mandatory funding in the Senate Farm Bill, Farm Aid remains deeply troubled by the bill’s failure to truly steers America’s food and farm system away from trends of consolidation and corporate power and instead in a direction that supports farmers, rural communities, and our natural resources.

See Farm Aid’s Take for more in-depth analysis of the Senate Farm Bill.


May 23:

The House Farm Bill Vote Fails

The House failed to pass a vote on their awful version of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2) on May 18. The vote was 213 to 198, with 30 Republicans joining 183 Democrats to defeat the bill. Some of the Republicans voting against the bill may have done so simply to force a vote on an immigration bill they want to see taken up by the House. The Washington Post said of the political move, “The farm bill itself became practically a sideshow, despite its importance to agriculture and the significant changes it would institute to food stamp programs.”

In the lead-up to the vote, hundreds of people took action through our Action Center to contact their Representatives to help stop H.R. 2. It’s expected to come up for another vote on June 22, so there is still time to stop this blatant handout to corporate agriculture. Farm Aid joins dozens of farm and food organizations to oppose this bill because it:

  • Fails farmers and ranchers by leaving them without a true safety net and instead delivers huge payouts to mega-farms through new or expanded loopholes in commodity, credit and insurance programs.
  • Harms rural economies by cutting funding for rural development programs that are critical to rural America. It also eliminates or severely cuts programs that safeguard our natural resources, and subsidizes factory farms that pollute rural communities.
  • Rolls back the progress made in previous Farm Bills by cutting or eliminating programs that support local and regional food systems; promote innovative farming and marketing systems; and support beginning farmers and ranchers, farmers of color and veteran farmers.
  • Hurts hungry Americans by cutting nutrition assistance programs, removing an anticipated 2 million individuals from support programs over the next 10 years.

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