Farm bill undermines rural America

Recently, the House of Representatives voted for a second time on H.R. 2, its draft of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, commonly known as the farm bill. Representatives voted 213 in favor and 211 against. The bill failed a previous vote on May 18, 2018, but an unchanged version passed recently.

“This bill undercuts rural communities in numerous and serious ways,” stated Anna Johnson, senior policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “By passing this bill, the House of Representatives is demonstrating limited vision and investment in rural communities.”

The draft includes the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program, and would cut funds for working lands conservation by nearly $5 billion over 10 years.

“In addition to the troubling cuts to working lands conservation, we are very concerned that this bill would roll back existing payment limits and create new loopholes for very large operations to exploit,” Johnson said. “Senator Grassley has made clear he plans to bring proposals for payment limitations to the Senate floor – we are very disappointed that the House of Representatives chose to take the opposite approach.”

The bill also would eliminate funding for important programs such as the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, and the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.

“We urge Congress to reverse these harmful decisions as deliberations on the farm bill move forward,” finished Johnson.

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed their version of the farm bill out of committee on June 13, which included a mixed bag of positive policy proposals but troubling funding cuts.
The current farm bill expires Sept. 30.