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Contentious Items Included and Excluded from 2018 Farm Bill


The compromise Farm Bill passed by the lame duck 115th Congress incorporates compromises that deviated from the original draft.  Restrictions on eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were excluded from the final version drafted by the Conference Committee.  It is estimated that 40 million U.S. citizens make use of SNAP, many of whom are able-bodied in a tight labor market. 


The second area of contention related to the disbursement of crop subsidies that are not restricted to the immediate farm family but may be extended to nephews, nieces and cousins of a qualified farmer.  The previous Farm Bill allowed crop subsidies of up to $125,000 based on “active engagement”.  It is evident that farm aid will now be extended to relatives not directly involved with a farm.


Having passed both the House and the Senate, the Farm Bill will be passed to the White House for signature.  Enactment is anticipated based on the concern prevalent in the farming community as a result of reduced exports consequent to the tariff war with China.


The 2018 Farm Bill addresses issues including the opioid epidemic in rural areas, broadband, mental health issues, support for dairy farmers, agricultural research, extension, bio-energy and acquiring new markets.


Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Stated, “The 2018 Farm Bill is our opportunity to make the American food and agriculture systems work more efficiently.”  House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Mike Conaway (R-TX) noted, “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.”