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Senate, House Finally Agree on Five-Year Farm Bill

Senate and House Conference Committee negotiators added their seal of approval to a five-year Farm Bill on Monday night. The 950-page conference report concludes almost two years of deliberation on a long-term Farm Bill that almost never happened.
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Senate and House Conference Committee negotiators added their seal of approval to a five-year Farm Bill on Monday night. The 950-page conference report concludes almost two years of deliberation on a long-term Farm Bill that almost never happened. The House passed the bill in a 251-166 vote and the Senate is expected to take it up soon.

The final bill saves approximately $23 billion over the next 10 years by eliminating the Direct Payment program for commodities and making significant reforms to the Food Stamp (SNAP) program. Aiming to strengthen the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP), the bill creates new risk management tools to replace direct payments. The crop insurance program will not have payment limits, but it will be tied to conservation compliance. 

The FCIP has served farmers and ranchers well for the past 30 years. The Farm Bill conference report specifically notes that despite record drought and flooding conditions over the past decade, the FCIP has never required taxpayer support to pay out claims.

In addition to strengthening the FCIP, the crop insurance title makes additional positive reforms by including language to require the Farm Services Association to share information and maps with crop insurance agents and crop insurance companies. It also provides both agents and companies with the flexibility to correct unintentional errors on crop application and reporting documents.

A short video about the Farm Bill and the full conference report are both available online.

Jen McPhillips is Big “I” senior director of federal government affairs.