North Dakota Connection: The Proposed Farm Bill

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives reached an agreement for the 2018 Farm Bill Thursday, Nov. 29 in hopes to pass before winter recess.

“A farm bill refers to a multi-year, multi-commodity federal law in the form of farm programs for farm and food programs and policies,” Saleem Shaik, professor of agribusiness and applied economics at NDSU, said.

The last farm bill, which passed in 2014, expired in September, according to Forbes. The 2018-2027 farm bill outline from the Congressional Budget Office indicates that the future farm bill would include Title I, commodity programs, Title II, conservation, Title XI, crop insurance, and will exclude Title IV, nutrition or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to Shaik.

“Ideally, a farm bill should provide protection to agriculture producers against uncertainty and risk or variability associated with production, cost and profit margins, cheap and affordable food to consumers with the least cost to government-based market economy,” Shaik said.

“Ideally, a farm bill should provide protection to agriculture producers against uncertainty and risk or variability” – Saleem Shaik, professor of agribusiness and applied economics

The farm bill also includes forestry and conservation management, which has been a contested issue following the devastating wildfires in California.

“Farmers will want a farm bill with a strong safety net that insures in the case of natural disasters that they will continue operation,” Bryon Parman, an NDSU assistant professor and agriculture finance specialist, said.

The previous farm bill was signed into law by former President Obama in February 2014. It was highly contested between the House and Senate. This bill was a second attempt by Congress to pass a new bill before the 2008 bill expired in September 2014.

“Title I, commodity support programs would be quite similar with few changes with respect to reference price of Price Loss Coverage program (PLC), Agricultural Risk Coverage program (ARC), payment limits and the adjusted gross income, expand coverage choices for milk producer, and extend the current sugar program,” Shaik said. “With conservation programs in Title II, there will be changes in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Finally, with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Title IV differences exist with respect to error and fraud detection, eligibility and calculation of benefits and work requirements.”

This bill is important to North Dakota because agriculture is a vital aspect in the state’s economy. According to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, 40 million acres are devoted to farming and ranching, which is about 90 percent of the state’s land. The agriculture sector employs 24 percent of the state’s population.

“Title I, II, IV and XI of the farm bill would affect North Dakota farmers. However, Title XI (crop insurance), Title I (commodity programs) and Title II (conservation) would affect North Dakota producers based on historical data,” Shaik said.

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