The push for the draft Farm Bill to be released the end of April has begun. While the Easter recess kept discussions from occurring temporarily, House members are ready to begin working toward a bipartisan agreement and move the bill on to the Senate before May. Between other bills needing passed on the floor and campaigns for elections in progress, a time constraint during summer may ensue; potentially causing a delay to pass Farm Bill 2018 by the Sept. 30 deadline.
Currently, a trade battle with China has the entire agricultural industry worried. With the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, China has retaliated by placing tariffs on up to $50 billion U.S. products as of Tuesday evening. The agricultural industry was not excluded. Tariffs were imposed on soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton, beef, tobacco and many others, totaling 106 products involved in the battle. The implications from trade can be detrimental to the economy, and many producers are looking at Congress to get the Farm Bill passed by the FY18 deadline, in hopes to ease the burdens of the tariffs.
The Farm Bill plays a role in all of this, especially if it is not passed before the deadline. There are certain programs that protect farmers and ranchers in times of need, as we have established in previous articles, like Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage. With commodity prices fluctuating in light of current events, there is a lot of risk involved in production farming. The ripple effect it will have on others — think of the swine industry, which relies on soymeal to feed out hogs — will cause even bigger problems. Regardless of these recent events, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has claimed this will not affect farmers and ranchers and has been in talks with President Trump about implementing programs to support farmers throughout this ordeal.
Farm risk management, trade, and crop insurance programs on the Farm Bill protect producers when the going gets tough and educates them on handling less than ideal situations. Titles 1, 3 and 11 on the 2014 bill encompassed these programs and assisted in strengthening the farm safety net and offset reduction in farm prices and income, which might occur as a result of a full-fledged trade war. To read about these specific programs, click here. It’s important to note that crop insurance has been a target in talks of the Farm Bill, with lawmakers wanting to cut crop insurance. Here is an article released in March regarding specific cuts and reforms of the crop insurance title, which could be cause to worry, especially in a time such as this.
The lack of bipartisan support to agree on a new Farm Bill, and a looming trade war, poses a terrible threat on an already struggling industry. The Farm Bill is here to protect producers, consumers, and all of those in between. As more develops with these two issues, it is apparent that a strong bill is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Markie Hageman is a senior, majoring in agribusiness, at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Follow her series exploring various parts of the next Farm Bill.