The Senate Agriculture Committee released a draft of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 on June 8. Committee leaders said this farm bill was a bipartisan effort.
Unlike the House version, which was voted down last month, the Senate bill preserves funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The merging of the two in the House bill drew criticism from area farmers.
The bill also preserves the Conservation Reserve Program and increases the cap for total acres to 25 million.
The Senate bill also includes a provision allowing county commodity payments to be based on Risk Management Agency data rather than data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The House Bill included a switch to RMA and an increase in CRP acres as well.
Senate Ag Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts said many times he wanted the farm bill to give predictability to American farmers. He said in a release that he believes this bill accomplishes that goal.
“Whether it’s low prices, overburdensome regulations, or unpredictable trade markets, it’s no secret that farmers and ranchers are struggling,” Roberts said in the release. “That’s why we need a farm bill that works for all producers across all regions. Simply put, our producers need predictability – and that’s just what our bill provides.”
The House bill’s failure was attributed to disagreements over more strict work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a disagreement that stopped negotiations at the House committee level.
The Senate bill did not take as hard a reform approach to SNAP, and instead focused on the integrity of the program, according to a senior committee aide.
The bill will eliminate performance bonuses, as well as other measures.
A marker bill was also included in the overall draft to legalize the cultivation of hemp.
The committee will meet Tuesday morning to consider the draft and make additional changes to the legislation as needed.