Today, the Senate adopted the 2018 Farm Bill conference report, 87-13. The measure now heads to the House. The bill is expected to clear the House in time for President Trump’s signature by the end of the week. Western Growers applauds the committee leaders, conferees and staff for their diligence in producing a strong, bi-partisan farm bill.
Below are a few policy initiatives included in the 2018 Farm Bill that will benefit the specialty crop industry:
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative – Allows all specialty crops to compete for the full $80 million per year for specialty crop research. Additionally, the bill provides a $25 million per year for the creation of a citrus trust fund to help combat citrus greening.
- Mechanization – Includes language throughout the research title to ensure the prioritization of research into mechanization in various USDA programs. This language was inserted to recognize the growing need for mechanization in labor intensive agricultural commodities.
- Pest and Disease – Maintains FY2018 funding at $75 million per year for pest and disease research and incorporates language to help coordinate research projects to ensure better utilization of existing resources. It also reauthorizes the National Clean Plant Network.
- National Organic Program – Creates a number of changes to the operation of the National Organic Program to both protect the domestic organic market and ensure that foreign competitors are in compliance with U. S. organic food production regulations.
- New Risk Management Tools for Specialty Crops – The legislation requires the head of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to consider the development of at least one new risk management tool for specialty crop producers each year. It also establishes a Specialty Crop Coordinator and Specialty Crop Liaison in each regional office.
“We are pleased that the farm bill negotiators have completed their task as the 2018 Farm Bill acknowledges the growing importance of the specialty crop industry to American agriculture and offers real progress on many of our top priorities, including funding for mechanization research and development, as well as improved access to crop insurance tools,” said Western Growers President & CEO Tom Nassif in a statement on the completion of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report.