U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-Ga-12) issued the following statement after the 2018 Farm Bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, was released this afternoon. Farm bill reauthorization only occurs every five years, with the current farm bill set to expire in September. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Allen worked with Chairman Conaway (TX-11) to help draft the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.
“Simply put, our farm economy is not what it was five years ago when the last farm bill was written. In Georgia’s 12th District, I have heard time and again from farmers who are struggling to make ends meet – and nationwide, our producers are facing a 52% decline in net farm income. Reforms must be made to combat the downturn, and that’s exactly why we need the legislation introduced today. H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, makes significant improvements and changes to provide certainty for our farmers and ensure an abundant food supply for our nation. Thanks to tax reform, the economy is growing, small businesses are expanding, and jobs are opening. This legislation also helps those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program take the next step from poverty to prosperity by providing opportunities to prepare for gainful employment, whether through education, training or jumping straight into the workforce.
I am thankful for all of the hard work that Chairman Conaway and my fellow colleagues on the committee have dedicated to this year’s farm bill. I am excited about the next step in the legislative process, and I stand committed to providing all of our farmers with the relief that they need and deserve.”
The Agriculture and Nutrition Act addresses a variety of issues under the House Agriculture Committee’s jurisdiction, including:
- Farm Policy: The farm bill maintains and improves Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) through 2023 and allows farmers to make a new election between the two programs. Crop insurance is protected in this bill, with some improvements to the program. In addition, the farm bill reauthorizes marketing and promotion programs that support specialty crops. Specifically, it enacts key changes and maintains funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): The SNAP program is our nation’s chief nutrition program and the farm bill strengthens existing work requirements and offers other opportunities for SNAP recipients to learn the skills necessary for gainful employment.
- Trade: H.R. 2 supports our farmers and ranchers by authorizing and restoring funding for vital tools for trade promotion and market development. In addition, the bill maintains legal authority for the secretary to provide assistance against unfair foreign trading practices.
- Rural Development: The bill authorizes annual funds for rural broadband and requires USDA to establish modern broadband standards. It also strengthens rural development initiatives to ensure our rural areas have opportunity for jobs and growth and creates a scholarship program designed for students interested in pursuing a career in agriculture.
The next step in the legislative process will be to mark this legislation up in the House Agriculture Committee before bringing it to the House floor for a full vote.