The 2018 Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that has a considerable effect on farming livelihoods, what foods are grown, and how they are grown. The 2018 Farm Bill is being called a comprehensive vision for a more sustainable farm and food system. It covers a wide range of elements linking consumers, farmers, and natural resources together for the goal of an affordable and sustainable agricultural economy.
In discussing some of the proposed updates to the bill, House Agricultural Committee Chairman, K. Michael Conway said, “We are writing this farm bill under dramatically different circumstances than we were four years ago when prices were high and rural America was thriving. Today, a host of factors—including natural disasters and high foreign subsidies, tariff and non-tariff barriers—have all contributed to chronically depressed prices.” As there are many elements to the 2018 Farm Bill, here is a summary with which to make yourself familiar.
What is the 2018 Farm Bill?
The 2018 Farm Bill is comprised of many sections, which are referred to as titles. There are 12 titles covering a wide range of things such as commodities, conservation, federal loan programs, and energy to name a few. We can expect that issues that have affected American farmers in the last few years and food production innovations will largely drive the changes we might expect in this new bill.
It’s good to note a new farm bill is drafted every four years or “reauthorized” with changes. Getting the bill approved can take a lengthy amount of time due to the extensive proves. Each bill lasts for five years.
Who is Affected?
All working farms will be affected by the new bill. As the bill contains elements pertaining to sustainability, trade, farming practices, insurance, and other aspects of interest to those who count on farming for their livelihood, even small farms would be affected. Hobby farms would not be affected.
What the 2018 Farm Bill Means for Crop Insurance
One of the top priorities of the 2018 Farm Bill is to protect crop insurance. The federal crop insurance program helps farmers to navigate the significant risks of farming such as fluctuations in the market, pests, and natural disasters. However, as a considerate amount of the insurance premium is paid by the taxpayer, it should be considered in danger as the current administration promised to cut taxes.
Under the current Farm Bill, farmers pay 38% of premiums, with the fed paying the remaining 62%. It is believed that the fed will be looking to cut their percentage with this new bill. The area that might be affected is the Harvest Price Option (HPO). This type of coverage provides lost production protection at the higher price (at time of planting or harvest). The only thing that may preserve HPO as it is now is a private-public partnership.
Insurance is a critical asset for every business, farming included. As more than half of all farms do not carry adequate insurance, there are supplemental acts being presented for inclusion in the bill to increase crop insurance access for beginner farmers. You can keep an eye on crop insurance updates at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website.