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NFU opposes House Farm Bill

South Dakota Ag Connection - April 27, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC - The National Farmers Union Board of Directors passed a resolution stating its opposition to the House draft of the 2018 Farm Bill, H.R. 2. The House Agriculture Committee passed the bill last week, and it is expected to be considered by the full chamber sometime in May. The NFU Board urged members of the House to make significant improvements to the Farm Bill before passing the legislation.

The Title I commodity programs would be largely the same as they were in 2014 Farm Bill. Price Loss Coverage (PLC) would maintain its reference prices, the threshold below which payments are triggered, for all commodities. As a result, struggling farmers will likely not receive an adequate amount of assistance to deal with such low commodity prices. The NFU Board resolution recommended that Congress increase PLC reference prices to improve the farm safety net and offset potential trade retaliation. Additionally, they emphasized the need to provide dairy farmers, who have been particularly vulnerable to low prices, with enhanced price supports and a mechanism that manages our nation's milk inventories to meet market demand.

Additionally, the House draft fails to provide farmers with the tools they need to be the best possible stewards of our natural resources. The bill would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), a working lands program that offers incentives for improving and maintaining conservation practices. The board decried the move, and called for the reauthorization of CSP or the implementation of a similar program.

The bill would also eliminate mandatory funding for Value-Added Producer Grants, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, all of which facilitate the development of fair and diverse markets for family farmers. The NFU Board advocated for the restoration of mandatory funding for programs that improve access to local, regional, and specialty markets and energy programs that promote development of the bioeconomy in rural areas.

The bill contains some bad news for hungry Americans, too, according to NFU. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program may see budget cuts and more stringent work requirements for participants, even though there are already such requirements in place. The NFU Board advised that the House maintain funding levels for consumer benefits under nutrition programs.

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