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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Agriculture Committee Chairmen Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Members Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today released the text of the bipartisan, bicameral 2018 Farm Bill conference report.

“The 2018 Farm Bill is our opportunity to make the American food and agriculture systems work more efficiently. I’m pleased to say we have done just that in this conference report,” said Chairman Roberts. “We started this journey nearly two years ago. Since then, the Senate Agriculture Committee has held dozens of hearings, listened to more than 90 witnesses, and received thousands of public comments. As promised, this farm bill provides much needed certainty and predictability for all producers – of all crops – across all regions across the country. I thank my counterparts in the Senate and House for coming to – and staying at – the table to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement for rural America.”

“America’s farmers and ranchers are weathering the fifth year of severe recession, so passing a farm bill this week that strengthens the farm safety net is vitally important,” said Chairman Conaway. “I am grateful to the President, Secretary Perdue and my leadership for standing fast for the hard-working farm and ranch families that clothe and feed us. I also appreciate the members of the conference committee for bringing this process one step closer to completion.”

“By working across the aisle, we overcame many differences to deliver a strong, bipartisan farm bill for our farmers, families, and rural communities,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “The 2018 Farm Bill is a good bill for our farmers and everyone who eats. Working together, we continued to expand the diversity of our agricultural economy, maintained a strong food and farm safety net, created new opportunities in our small towns and rural communities, and made significant investments in land and water conservation. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels – it’s time to get the bill across the finish line as soon as possible. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”

“This bill is a strong start to addressing the issues our producers are facing right now, particularly our dairy farmers,” said Ranking Member Peterson. “The bill’s new provisions will offer more flexible coverage for lower cost when dairy farmers need it most, and provide producers more tools to manage their risk. It also invests $300 million in the prevention and response for animal pests and disease. More broadly, the bill invests in research, outreach to beginning & underserved producers, local and organic food production, bioenergy, and access to new markets. It also addresses broadband, farm stress and mental health issues, and the opioid epidemic in rural areas. It’s the product of strong bipartisan work in both the House and the Senate, and it’s something I’m proud to encourage folks to vote for.”

Click here to read the text of the report.

Oct. 30, 2018

Agri-Pulse reports:

The first tranche of the package contained three sections – direct payments, a government purchase program and a trade promotion program. Only the direct payments portion – the Market Facilitation Program – will be repeated in December.

Just like the first tranche, the rates are multiplied by half the production on a farm for the payment:

• Wheat: 14 cents per bushel

• Sorghum: 86 cents per bushel

• Cotton: 6 cents per pound

• Corn: 1 cent per bushel

• Dairy: 12 cents per hundredweight

• Hogs: $8 per head

• Soybeans: $1.65 per bushel

The Market Facilitation Program in the first tranche was estimated to be roughly $4.7 billion in payments. The USDA is still taking into consideration pleas by some farm groups to increase the payment rates, but no decision has been made on that, a source said.

While administration officials continue to count a renegotiation of NAFTA and the U.S.-South Korea FTA as trade wins, American farmers and ranchers continue to be battered by Chinese, Mexican, Canadian, European, Turkish and Indian tariffs.

Much of those tariffs are retaliation for the U.S. import taxes on steel and aluminum. China is also levying a separate 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, wheat, sorghum and corn that is in response to the U.S. punishing it for intellectual property theft.

Because tariffs have not declined, the rates of payment in the trade program have not been lowered, a government official said.

USDA will use the following programs to assist farmers:

• The Market Facilitation Program, authorized under The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and administered by Farm Service Agency (FSA), will provide payments incrementally to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. This support will help farmers manage disrupted markets, deal with surplus commodities, and expand and develop new markets at home and abroad.

• Additionally, USDA will use CCC Charter Act and other authorities to implement a Food Purchase and Distribution Program through the Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase unexpected surplus of affected commodities such as fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk for distribution to food banks and other nutrition programs.

• Finally, the CCC will use its Charter Act authority for a Trade Promotion Program administered by the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) in conjunction with the private sector to assist in developing new export markets for our farm products.

Farm Policy Facts (Our View): Beware of Anti-Farm, Socialist Rhetoric

The “thinkers” who inhabit DC’s ivory tower think tanks now want farmers to work for free. Yes, you read that right. In fact, here’s the Cato Institute’s view on farm policies that help growers survive low prices:

Food is essential for human survival and we would all be better served if its price was, like sunlight and air, zero. The benefits of cheaper food and reduced hunger easily outweigh any losses borne by the farm sector…. The best farm bill is none at all.

Read full article: Farm Policy Facts (Our View): Beware of Anti-Farm, Socialist Rhetoric

Martin Barbre, RMA Administrator

Martin Barbre owns and operates Chestin Farms and grows 6,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum, and alfalfa, as well as specialty crops. He is a past president of the National Corn Growers Association Corn Board and a member of the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA), having served on the board of directors from 1995 to 2006. Barbre served as vice president of the ICGA in 2003 and president in 2004. He graduated from Southeastern Illinois College in 1974 with a degree in Ag Business.