Congressional efforts to craft a 2018 Farm Bill have made significant progress during the past two weeks, bolstering hopes that a final bill can be approved by Sept. 30, when authorization for many current Farm Bill programs expires.
On Thursday, June 28, the U.S. Senate approved its version of the Farm Bill on a bipartisan 86-11 vote. The Senate vote followed earlier action by the U.S. House, which approved its version of the bill on June 21. House and Senate leaders will now appoint a conference committee to reconcile differences between the two versions of the Farm Bill and craft a final bill for consideration by both houses.
Some key elements of the Senate Farm Bill approved June 28 include:
Improving the current Margin Protection Program (renamed Dairy Risk Coverage in the Senate bill) and increasing baseline funding for the program. The bill also expands flexibility in signing up for coverage and makes a variety of other adjustments to ensure the program works for dairy farmers of all sizes.
Maintaining the farm safety net, including the Federal Crop Insurance Program and key Commodity Title programs (including Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage) that help farmers mitigate risk from market and weather volatility.
Investing in federal conservation programs used by farmers nationwide to safeguard soil health and water quality, while adjusting key elements of the Conservation Title to support additional private sector involvement in conservation.
Maintaining important trade promotion programs that help preserve and expand market access for U.S. agricultural products.
Land O’Lakes, Inc. has been engaged on the Farm Bill from the beginning, encouraging House and Senate leaders to ensure a comprehensive, five-year bill is completed this year. On Sunday, July 1, Interim CEO Pete Janzen kept up the drumbeat when he joined U.S. Senator Tina Smith in St. Paul, MN and encouraged Congressional leaders to finish work on a bill that ensures certainty for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
“As a farmer-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes knows the Farm Bill impacts every farmer and every American,” said Janzen. “In today’s farm economy, passage of a new Farm Bill is especially important for producers, rural businesses and rural communities. We appreciate all those who worked together to craft the bipartisan farm bill that passed the Senate recently, marking an important step forward in this process.”
Janzen’s appearance with Sen. Smith followed Land O’Lakes participation in a series of meetings with members of Congress and their staff in Washington, DC the previous week, scheduled as part of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives’ 2018 Washington Conference. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Land O’Lakes Services Brad Oelmann joined member-owners from Kansas, Illinois and Indiana to engage directly with policymakers and encourage them to get a Farm Bill done this summer. In addition, Marissa Gautsch, Director of Marketing and Sales for Land O’Lakes Global Dairy Ingredients participated in a June DC fly-in organized by SNAC International to advocate for a new Farm Bill.
Above all, the certainty of a comprehensive, five-year Farm Bill is a top priority for Land O’Lakes and its member-owners.
“We need leaders from both the House and the Senate to keep the momentum going, put politics aside and get a Farm Bill done without delay,” Janzen said. “It’s an unpredictable time for the farm economy, but our member-owners at Land O’Lakes are keeping their heads up and working hard. They’re counting on a Farm Bill for certainty in federal policy, and we look forward to engaging with Congressional leaders as work continues to finish this Farm Bill.”
During every Farm Bill reauthorization, Land O’Lakes seizes the opportunity to advocate for policy that helps farmers manage volatility and market uncertainty. We count on member-owners to lend their voice to the Farm Bill discussion, and as the process continues, members should be on the lookout for action alerts and updates as we move closer to a final vote.