Nutrition aid, crop insurance, commodity support, and conservation are ways the United States addresses agricultural and food policy. The legislative process that establishes most of the rules governing agricultural and food policy occurs about once every five years. The Agriculture Improvement Act 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) was signed on December 20, 2018, and will last until 2023.
\Some 2018 Farm Act provisions will remain in effect after that date. The 2018 Farm Act does not significantly alter existing food and farming policies. There will be minimal adjustments to nutrition policy, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP).
The 2014 Farm Act’s crop insurance and agricultural commodity programmes will remain unchanged. All significant conservation initiatives are maintained, though some have undergone substantial revisions. Increases are made to initiatives for new farmers, those with low incomes, those with military experience, and those growing organic and speciality crops.
The 2018 Farm Bill will increase spending by $1.8 billion (less than 1%) for FY2019–FY2023. CBO projections show that 76% of Farm Act 2018 spending will go to nutrition, 9% to crop insurance, 7% to conservation, 7% to commodity, and 1% to trade, credit, rural development, research and extension, forestry, horticulture, and miscellaneous programmes. This article contains some important information about the 2018 Farm Bill. So, continue reading.
3 Key Components of the 2018 Farm Bill
1. Farmer livelihoods
American farmers and ranchers’ net farm income has halved since 2013. This year, worried and desperate farmers have called the 1-800-FARM-AID helpline in record numbers as they see fewer ways to survive.
The 2018 Farm Bill could have restored supply management (which would curb overproduction causing the dairy crisis) and fair pricing policies that cover farmers’ cost of production instead of using taxpayer money to offset extreme, costly, and avoidable market volatility that puts farmers at risk of bankruptcy.
Despite a few bright spots, the 2018 Farm Bill fails spectacularly and sometimes even takes steps backwards by giving more taxpayer money to the wealthiest farm operations to address the farm economy’s core challenges.
- Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance network
Although it was originally authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, a lack of funding prevented it from getting off the ground. The 2018 Farm Bill makes the programme accessible to tribal communities and authorizes up to $10 million annually until 2023. After the bill passes, everyone will work hard to ensure the money goes to the network of service providers who will help farmers in crisis understand their options and get help.
The bill also requires the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health, and Human Services to investigate farmer and agricultural worker occupational stress and develop a long-term strategy and response.
- Improvements to whole farm revenue protection
Farmers with more complex operations, who were previously ineligible for government safety nets, can now get the protection they need thanks to a vital crop insurance programme. The ability to adjust for the effects of natural disasters in the baseline assumptions that affect insurance coverage is an important improvement made by this bill.
- Risk management goes local
The farm bill mandates that the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) develop a new Local Food Policy to serve better farmers and ranchers involved in local and regional food systems.
- Bye-bye King Amendment
Local and state laws protecting animals, the environment, food safety, and worker health and safety would have been nullified by the King Amendment, which was intended to apply specifically to factory farms. The final invoice does not include this.
2. Regional Food Systems and Easy Access to Nutritious Food
Farm Aid honours farmers and ranchers who sustain the food system. The 2008 Farm Bill introduced various programmes to support local and regional food systems, farmer market diversification, healthy food access, and other innovative programmes. Food can boost local economies, create jobs, and strengthen farmer-eater relationships.
These programmes would receive sustained funding in the new Farm Bill, and everyone in the United States would have easier access to nutritious food. Considering how hard communities fought to make the case that local food systems represent worthy investments in rural economies, public health, job creation, and farmer livelihoods, this was a major win and a bright spot in the bill.
- The LAMP
Over the past decade, several programmes driving forces behind local and regional food systems have struggled to secure adequate funding. The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) programme and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programme (FMLFPP) have been merged into a single initiative called the Local Agriculture Market Programme (LAMP) in the current farm bill.
The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorizes the Rural Energy for America Programme (REAP), which will receive $50 million in mandatory funds annually in perpetuity, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service / Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural America (ATTRA), the Business and Industry Loan Guarantees Local & Regional Food Enterprise Set-aside, and expands the H.R. 2 (Agricultural Research, Extension, and Marketing) programme.
- It’s a Rural Thing
The 2018 Farm Bill reverses Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s egregious decision from the previous year to do away with an Undersecretary for Rural Development. The new law makes it so that this job must be created.
- Urban Matters, too
The “Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Forms of Production” was created in the 2018 Farm Bill, and it is authorized to disburse $25 million annually, in addition to having a 15-person advisory committee and the ability to award competitive grants. It establishes a community composting and food waste reduction pilot programme and directs the formation of 10 pilot Urban and Suburban County Committees. Under this bill, urban agriculture research grants are guaranteed annual funding of $10 million.
- Allow food to serve as your medicine.
The bill reauthorizes and rebrands the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Programme as the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Programme (after the tireless advocate for food security is Gus Schumacher). A produce prescription programme is part of the programme that will receive $250 million over 5 years.
- Improved SNAP.
The bill repeals the strict and bureaucratic work requirements included in the House version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP, formerly known as ‘food stamps’) funding extension bill. These provisions would have exacerbated child and family poverty in the United States. To allow customers to use their SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets, the bill directs USDA to allow them to use the same EBT machine.
3. All Farmers have Equal Opportunity.
A small number of farmers and farm types have received a disproportionate share of federal farm bill funding for too long. Credit, conservation, and other agricultural initiatives hinder minority and female farmers. Discrimination has cost farming families their livelihoods and land too often.
An improved farm bill was intended to level the playing field for farmers of all stripes and attract more people to the profession. This law has important provisions.
- Greetings, FOTO!
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Programme (BFRDP) and the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Programme (“Section 2501”) have been merged into a single programme called Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) as part of the final farm bill. An annual funding of $50 million for the improved programme is split in half.
- Fairer safety net
Important changes to the farm safety net programmes are sprinkled throughout the Farm Bill to ensure that farmers of colour are not discriminated against. The bill requires, among other things, the creation of a report on Underserved Producers every three years, with suggestions for increasing their engagement with insurance programmes; equitable relief is included for farmers who had their direct loan applications improperly serviced by the USDA.
- Fairness for Heirs Property.
The term “heirs’ property” describes an estate left to numerous heirs without using a will or other formal estate planning documents. It prevents farmers who are part of an heir’s property from qualifying for FSA loans because the heirs need clear title to the land. With the passage of this bill, farmers of colour and African Americans who own undivided interests in their land will have access to USDA programmes that help them preserve soil and water quality to keep their farms running and feed their communities.
The bill mandates $40 million in scholarship funding for agricultural colleges founded in 1890 to serve African-American students denied higher education due to segregation.
Removes Industrial Hemp from the list of controlled substances and gives states and territories the authority to create rules for growing the crop within their borders, allowing farmers and ranchers to reap the financial benefits of increasing a high-value cash crop while remaining eligible for federal farm programme subsidies.
The 2018 Farm Bill: Some Necessary Background
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI):
This opens up the entire $80 million pot for speciality crop research to competition. To do this, $25 million in funds set aside for the citrus industry were transferred from the general fund into a special trust. The new provisions increase funding for the new five-year Farm Bill by $125 million compared to existing law.
- Specialty Crop Block Grants
These ensure the program’s ongoing support at $85 million per year, representing a sizeable increase in funding from $375 million to $425 million over the five years of the Farm Bill’s lifespan. Existing hurdles in current law that have made funding of marketing and multi-state projects more difficult are also helped to be eased by the legislation.
- Funding for Pests and Illnesses
Pest and disease control programmes will receive $75 million in fiscal year 2018. This adds $50,000,000 to the 2018 Farm Bill. The National Clean Plant Network is also renewed to safeguard critical industries from pathogen threats by distributing pathogen-tested accessions of cutting-edge tree fruit, berry, rose, and other high-value horticultural crop varieties.
- Greenhouse Crop Insurance
This clause kicks off investigations into how greenhouse crop insurance might be improved and expanded in the future.
- Plant Intellectual Property Rights
The United States could get up to date with the Farm Bill of 2018. Shawn McBurney, senior director of government relations for the Society of American Florists, argues that the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) should be strengthened to safeguard plant breeders’ intellectual property better.
The provision will amend PVPA so that asexually reproduced (vegetative) varieties are afforded the same protection against commercial exploitation as sexually produced (seed) varieties are in the United States. Protection for EDVs was added to the PVPA in 1994 but originally only applied to sexually reproduced seed varieties when the law was enacted in 1970 to protect the intellectual property of agricultural plant breeders.
However, varieties introduced to the market through asexual or vegetative propagation after 1996 were not covered by PVPA, leaving them vulnerable to introducing EDVs by unscrupulous third parties. Plant breeders now fork over twice as much money to safeguard their crops for utility patents as they would for a plant patent.
- Automation Research
Because of the high labour costs and unstable labour market, the 2018 Farm Bill includes language encouraging the advancement of research into labour-saving automation and mechanization. According to the House Agriculture Committee, proposals addressing cutting-edge technologies will have a better chance of being funded thanks to two research and Extension programmes: the Strategic Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and the Strategic Commodities Research Programme.
- Next Generation Growers
Provisions in the Farm Bill continue to aid new farmers getting started in the industry by expanding their use of crop insurance and providing funding for a scholarship programme at Land Grant colleges for those considering a career in agriculture.
The new Farm Bill creates the “Commission on Farm Transitions – Needs for 2050,” which will look into whether or not additional policy changes are necessary to guarantee a sustainable, plentiful, and reasonably priced food supply in the United States in light of the impending generational shift in the agricultural sector.
Additionally, the Farm Bill provides $100 million annually to rebuild rural dams and flood protection infrastructure, authorizes substantial appropriations for broadband infrastructure loans and grants to connect rural communities to the global economy, and expands access to credit for rural communities to finance critical infrastructure like public water systems.
The 2018 Farm Bill overhauled hemp product regulations, and the FDA will continue to work in this area. The majority agree that this crop has great potential for American farmers. The FDA plans to update Congress and interested parties on its efforts to bring legal hemp products to market through existing regulatory pathways and its investigations into whether CBD products need additional regulatory frameworks.
Policy decisions regarding hemp products will remain grounded in the overarching public health mission and the dedication to evidence-based decision-making. If you like this article, read more like this on our website Trusted CBD Reviews.