Controversial Farm Bill Draft Released

Earlier today, Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, released a proposal for the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill is wrapped in partisan controversy related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The proposed changes to the SNAP program, which include amended work and training requirements, caused bipartisan negotiations on the overall Farm Bill to break down in March and may ultimately derail passage of the House’s version of the Farm Bill.

However, the bill provisions that relate to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) have not been a point of contention in the Committee. The FCIP sees minimal changes in the Chairman’s bill. Unlike the SNAP changes, the FCIP has relatively broad and bipartisan support in the House Agriculture Committee. Furthermore, few groups are pushing major changes to the program in light of the continuing economic challenges the farm economy is facing from falling commodity prices.

Despite broad bipartisan support for the FCIP, the Big “I” still expects attacks on the program as the 2018 Farm Bill moves through the legislative process, including the potential consideration of amendments that would harm the FCIP.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee is still working on drafting a bill and has yet to release text.

Crop insurance will be one of the top issues Big “I” members bring to the Hill during the Big “I" Legislative Conference, to take place April 18-20 at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, D.C. Other issues this year include flood insurance, health care, insurance regulatory reform, implementation of tax reform and cybersecurity. 

Jennifer Webb is Big “I” federal government affairs counsel.