Farm Bill has been signed by Trump
Farm Bill has been signed by Trump

By Codi Vallery-Mills

President Trump signed the U.S. Farm Bill on Dec.20. It was a welcome Christmas present to U.S. farming and ranching communities.

“We have to take care of our farmers and our ranchers, and we will take care of them. Not only is it a bill it is a great bill for them and so we are honored by it,” said Trump as he introduced the signing of the bill.

Trump noted the passage and signing of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly known as the farm bill) was a major victory – “It was a bipartisan success.”

Of the bill, Trump touched on crop insurance programs and disaster funding being supported. The farm bill raises the amount of money that can be borrowed through Farm Service Agency loan guarantees and direct loans as well as direct farm operating loans and real estate loans. It expands rural broadband and dedicates funding to stopping the rural opioid crisis. It also opens new markets for ag all over the world. 

“By the passage of the farm bill we are delivering to the farmers and ranchers – the heart and soul of America – all sorts of things they never even thought possible. We are ensuring that American agriculture will always feed our families, nutrition our communities, power our commerce and inspiring our nation,” Trump said.

USDA had worked over a year and a half providing Congress with the details and guidance it needed to supply the new five-year farm bill. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue gave these remarks before the signing of it.

“This is a great day for agriculture . . .  it gives producers, the farmers, and ranchers across America, the peace of mind going forward. They can make plans in 2019, make their lenders and bankers proud of what they can plan for. The underpinning safety net of crop insurance is a big deal for agriculture, the U.S. economy, the ag economy, for food security and national security.”

The farm bill kept in place the funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) however at the farm bill’s signing President Trump directed Sec. Perdue to regulate the program by closing work requirement loopholes and implementing new work rules that would require every able-bodied individual – that have no dependents – to work or look for work in order to gain food assistance.

Trump said the welfare reform was difficult to get done, but in the end, would be best and make everyone happy as dependent people would turn into independent people.

The Iowa Cattlemen's Association was happy to see the passage of the bill.

"The Farm Bill offers crucial certainty for Iowa's cattle producers and farmers. We are encouraged to see ICA's priorities addressed, including authorization and funding of a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, investment in trade promotion and market access, and reauthorization of key conservation programs," said David Trowbridge, ICA President.

The bipartisan bill includes funds of $120 million for animal health and disease preparedness. A minimum of $5 million per year allocated to the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program with the remainder given to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and funding the Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, according to a ICA press release.

Additionally, $500 million will be apportioned to the Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation program which includes full funding to the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program. Each will receive a minimum of $200 million and $35.5 million respectively. These funds are crucial in promoting U.S. beef globally and help stretch producer investments in the Beef Checkoff through matching programs.