By one yardstick — dollars spent under the 2018 farm bill — the cost-sharing Environmental Quality Incentives Program is the largest working lands conservation program at the USDA, said two University of Illinois economists on Thursday. They created an interactive map of EQIP spending that showed Texas and California were the leading states for outlays.
House Republican leaders named 26 members to the Agriculture Committee on Monday, including former chairman Frank Lucas, who left the committee after the 2014 farm bill was enacted. The top item on the committee agenda will be updating U.S. food and agriculture policy this year. The 2018 farm law expires on Sept. 30.
A new report urges Congress to make reducing food waste a priority in the 2023 farm bill in order to address climate change and hunger while benefiting the economy. The U.S. wastes more than one-third of the food it produces and imports, according to the report, published last week by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, the Natural Resources Defense Council, ReFED and the World Wildlife Fund.
Lawmakers decided as part of the 2018 farm policy law to expand the voluntary Conservation Reserve, which pays landowners an annual rent in exchange for idling fragile farmland for 10 years or longer. Although the expansion was expected to be popular — offering steady income after years of low commodity prices — it hasn't panned out. Enrollment continues a decline that began in 2007.
The 2018 farm law allows an additional 3 million acres into the land-idling Conservation Reserve, partly to offset the low market prices that followed the collapse of the commodity boom earlier this decade. Lawmakers may opt for another expansion of the reserve if farmers face mountains of surplus grain and continued low prices, said two University of Illinois economists.
A lot of farmers will give industrial hemp a try this year, the first time cultivation is allowed nationwide, USDA officials predicted on Thursday. But they said there was no way they could allow more THC in hemp despite complaints that the limit of 0.3 percent is so low that some growers will be penalized unfairly for a "hot" crop.
The Trump administration enabled multimillion-dollar payments to some large operators in this year’s round of trade war payments by obliterating the usual limits on farm subsidies, said the president of the National Farmers Union on Thursday.
At a listening session on Wednesday, landowners and advocates spoke to the Department of Agriculture about the importance of reforming how the agency aids heirs property owners. The listening session was convened to collect input on a series of heirs property reforms mandated by the 2018 farm bill.
Staunch conservative Michael Conaway, an eight-term Republican from west Texas and the most divisive House Agriculture chairman in decades, said on Wednesday that he will retire at the end of 2020.
The 2018 farm bill legalized industrial hemp production, but it is likely to be 2020 before the USDA produces the regulatory framework for the new crop, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
Two outspoken Kansans scored the trade war with China as needlessly disruptive for the farm sector on Tuesday, with Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts comparing it to the five-week partial government shutdown and economist Barry Flinchbaugh urging Congress to curtail President Trump's power to impose tariffs in the name of national security. In a pause in the trade war, China bought 2.6 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans, the third-largest soy sale in USDA records.
Although they’re in the minority, Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee will work for regulatory relief at home for farmers and ranchers and market access abroad for U.S. farm exports, said Rep. Michael Conaway, the GOP leader on the committee, on Wednesday.
When Democrats take control of the House today, one of their first steps will be the adoption of operating rules for the coming two years, including a provision that could lead to a court challenge to stricter time limits for SNAP benefits.
At the same time President Trump signed into law the 2018 farm bill, which modestly strengthens the farm safety net, loosens farm subsidy rules, and legalizes industrial hemp, he announced “immediate action on welfare reform” on Thursday through stricter enforcement of time limits on food stamps to able-bodied adults.
On Thursday, hours before President Trump was expected to sign the farm bill, the administration has proposed restricting the power of states to waive the usual 90-day limit on food stamps for able-bodied adults who do not work at least 20 hours a week.
The farm bill "is in very, very good shape," according to President Trump, who hinted that he will sign the bill into law this week. "So we’ll get the farm bill. Got to take care of the farmers. But it’s just been something very, very exciting," said Trump over the weekend.
The 2018 farm bill, which President Trump could sign into law as early as next week, is more than two months overdue, largely because of a fight over SNAP work requirements that led Rep. Collin Peterson to say, “I don’t know if we’re ever going to get another one done.” The past decade has provided ample reason for doubt.
United in a bipartisan embrace, the House sent the status-quo 2018 farm bill to President Trump after a landslide 369-47 vote on Wednesday, with only a few Republicans openly lamenting that the bill will not impose stricter work requirements for SNAP recipients.
With the farm bill potentially days away from congressional approval, House and Senate negotiators are ready to let distant relatives of farmers qualify for crop subsidies, said an ag lobbyist. Agricultural leaders in Congress hope to release details of the 2018 farm bill early this week, which would open the path to a final vote in each chamber in a matter of days.