Late this summer, growers will get their first chance in years to switch between the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage subsidies, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers last week. During testimony at two hearings, Perdue also said the USDA would hold a "general" sign-up for the Conservation Reserve before the end of the year.
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.
House Agriculture chairman Micheal Conaway says he tried to help every section of the country in his version of the 2018 farm bill, which was ratified by his fellow House Republicans but now is stalled by myriad House-Senate disputes. One of the House provisions, to give some but not all growers the opportunity to potentially increase their subsidy payments, "does not seem prudent," said four university economists.
Enrollment in a new cotton subsidy program, created by Congress early this year, will run until Dec. 7, said the USDA. The program, offered for so-called seed cotton, allows participants to choose from a pair of subsidy options.
The House and Senate made relatively few changes to the farm program in passing separate versions of the new farm bill. The next step is to reconcile differences in the bills, and the cotton industry's desire to protect its subsidies is just one of a long list of likely flashpoints.
Nearly 28,000 farmers received crop subsidy or agricultural disaster payments every year for 32 years, said the Environmental Working Group in a report released today. The payments, from 1985-2016, averaged $687,204 per person annually and totaled at least $19.2 billion, according to EWG's analysis of USDA data.
The USDA has a "glaring loophole" in its farm subsidy rules that allows people to collect up to $125,000 a year in subsidies for providing farm management, said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is trying to get a tougher set of rules into law.
Democrats joined the Republican majority to defeat the final challenges to crop subsidies in the House farm bill on Thursday, immediately followed by two-party teamwork to reject a more stringent line of SNAP work requirements than were written into the bill.
While ready to move on the farm bill, House Republican leaders are giving Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway time to persuade "a lot of undecideds" to vote for tougher work requirements for SNAP recipients and looser subsidy rules for farmers. A sizable number of Republican lawmakers say Conaway wasn't tough enough on either group and want to tighten the access to federal support.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Carmen Rottenberg will lead USDA's meat inspection agency, Richard Fordyce will head the Farm Service Agency, and Bruce Summers is the new chief of the Agricultural Marketing Service.