On June 28, the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill, the “Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018,” by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) by the largest margin ever for a Senate Farm Bill, 86 to 11. The bipartisan Senate Farm Bill stands in sharp contrast to the House Farm Bill which the House passed on June 21 by a narrow two-vote margin after the bill failed to pass in May. Only Republications supported the House bill.
Of note for Big “I” members, neither the Senate or House bill contains cuts to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP). The Big “I” and a number of Big “I” state associations sent letters to every member of the House of Representatives urging opposition to any amendments to the Farm Bill that would 1) limit participation in crop insurance, 2) make insurance more expensive for farmers or 3) harm the private-sector delivery of crop insurance.
Many Big “I” state associations also launched targeted grassroots for key Senate offices. The Big “I” also participated in several meetings with members of the Senate and House.
Even though both the House and Senate have passed a Farm Bill supportive of crop insurance, it may be some time before a final bill heads to the President’s desk. The bills significantly differ on several contentious issues. This means that the process for reconciling the two bills into something both chambers can approve—and that the President will sign— is likely to be difficult. Changes to the bills—including changes to the crop insurance provisions—are possible during this process.
The Big “I” will continue to update members on the status of the Farm Bill and its impact on the FCIP as the process moves forward.
Jennifer Webb is Big “I” federal government affairs counsel.