What you need to know about the 2018 Farm Bill
Toward the end of 2018, it wasn't clear whether the new Farm Bill version would be approved. Its predecessor, the 2014 Farm Bill, expired on Sept. 30. Thankfully, last month both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the 2018 Farm Bill. President Donald Trump followed up by adding his signature once it crossed his desk.
Many in the agriculture sector have kept a watchful eye over the bill's progress, including us at Midwest Land Management. Now that it's set to become the new law of the land, here is what you should know about the 2018 Farm Bill.
2018 Farm Bill basics
In many ways, the 2018 Farm Bill is similar to the 2014 version. The overall cost is expected to be in the range of $867 billion over 10 years. Funding for the bill will last until 2023.
As Senate Agriculture Committee leader Pat. Roberts of Kansas told Harvest Public media, the 2018 Farm Bill means there will be more stability for farmers and producers as they prepare for next year.
Roberts said the bill will "enable producers certainty and predictability and for them to go to their lender and say 'We're good' for the next five years."
Some conservation changes included
A significant priority expressed by many organizations in the agriculture sector, including American Farmland Trust, was to see that the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP, was protected and properly funded.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, ACEP provides financial and technical assistance in order to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands, along with related benefits of those lands.
An additional $200 million per year will be allocated to ACEP over the next 10 years. As American Farmland Trust stated in a recent post celebrating the 2018 Farm Bill's passage, that equates to $2 billion more that will be used to save important land that is critical to the nations' food supply and environmental health.
The new Farm Bill also increases the amount of land eligible for the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to not farm on environmentally sensitive land. The 2018 Farm Bill increases the program's acreage cap from 24 million acres to 27 million acres between 2019 and 2023.
Another program boosted under the 2018 Farm Bill is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, which will see more payments in future years. Payments to the program start at $1.75 billion in 2019 and then increase to $2.025 billion by 2023.
Ernst says the Farm Bill is 'farmer-focused'; touts bill's conservation and mental health impacts
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst in a statement called the 2018 Farm Bill "farmer-focused and welcome news for Iowa."
"From strengthening conservation programs to providing critical mental health support through my FARMERS FIRST Act, the 2018 Farm Bill provides certainty for our farmers and strong support for our rural communities," Ernst said. "I am proud to support the 2018 Farm Bill and would like to thank all the Iowans across the state who provided valuable information and feedback throughout this long process."
The FARMERS FIRST ACT provides mental health and resources to the agriculture community. It is otherwise known as Facilitating Accessible Resources for Mental Health and Encouraging Rural Solutions for Immediate Response to Stressful Times Act.
In her statement, Ernst pointed to the bill's accomplishment of strengthening and improving the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) - County Level program. Specifically, Ernst acknowledge provisions that require payments be based on a farm's physical location, prioritize county yield data use, encourage pro rating of base acres and payments where appropriate and prioritizing yields that are compiled by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) as data for ARC.
In addition, Ernst made note that the new Farm Bill includes a pilot program proposal that encourages SNAP recipients to purchase more milk, which she said could help those recipients improve their diets. She said in her statement that this also better supports the nation's dairy farmers.
Changes to insurance and subsidies programs
Another change affecting ARC is that farmers now can select either the Price Loss Coverage or ARC each year rather than being required to choose one program for the life of the bill, as was required by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bureau noted that this option to choose allows farmers decide which of the risk management tools better meets their farm's and crop's needs for the marketing year.
As for subsidies, the 2018 Farm Bill now makes subsidies available to extended families members: first cousins, nieces and nephews.
A major difference: hemp will become legal
A major difference found in the 2018 Farm Bill is that it legalizes hemp on a national level with the inclusion of The Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Once the bill becomes law, hemp will be removed from the list of controlled substances.
The Iowa Farm Bureau reacted positively to how this change could affect Iowa farmers. The bureau believes hemp production in the state may start off slow, but could grow in the coming years as farmers learn more about the product.
After the 2018 Farm Bill passed both the House and the Senate, Farm Bureau Director of Research David Miller told WHOtv in Des Moines:
"Over about a three or four-year period, (hemp) could grow to be a 20 million-dollar industry in the state but it may be as much as a 20 billion dollar industry nationwide long term."
Nationally, the hemp industry grew to $820 million in 2017. According to a report from Harvest Public Media, the CBD oil, or cannabidiol, industry is estimated to be worth $22 billion by 2022.
Midwest Land Management is here to help
If you need help understanding any of the changes or want to know how the 2018 Farm Bill could affect you, then please reach out to us by calling (712) 262-3110 or contacting us online.
Midwest Land Management has 25 years of experience in the land business and we value building long-term, sustainable relationships. From farm management, to farm real estate and insurance services, we look forward to helping you meet your individual goals and needs.