While the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is optimistic that a new farm bill will be in place by the end of 2018, Andrew Walmsley, AFBF director of congressional relations, suggests that farmers need to remind their respective members of Congress that time is limited.
“They (Congress) is intending to get this done,” Walmsley said. “But it’s going to be key for farmers to make sure members of Congress know just how important this is. They need to be applying pressure to leadership to hopefully have a conference report and a vote here in the next couple of weeks to get this done.”
If the farm bill doesn’t pass in the lame-duck session and gets pushed to 2019, Congress will have to start the farm bill process over, which could prove very detrimental to agriculture. Walmsley adds that legislative leaders have also made it clear they’re not interested in simply extending the 2014 farm bill, which expired September 30, either.
Walmsley says Farm Bureau is hearing that farm bill negotiations are getting close to wrapping up, if negotiators can wrap up a few remaining, but significant challenges.
“They’re still working towards some challenges with budget on getting the best bill possible in the commodity title,” Walmsley explained. “Maybe a few outstanding issues in conservation, and then obviously nutrition, but I think the rest of the bill’s pretty close to being wrapped up.”
Challenges aside, Walmsley is encouraged by post-election comments from several leaders in both chambers of Congress, including the presumed incoming House Ag Committee Chair, Collin Peterson.
“We had to get past the election to figure out a few of outstanding issues,” Walmsley said. “When members are back in town next week, all the work that committee staff have done to get us to this point, a few decisions can be made, and we can move pretty quickly.”