LUBBOCK, Texas– The 2018 Farm Bill, which is vital to the nation’s food supply, will expire and renew this year, although the priorities for the next bill look a little different, one local official said on Monday.
There are many goals stakeholders have for the bill; like keeping food affordable and accessible, and providing job security to those in the food and agriculture industries, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture said makes up more than 14% of U.S. employment.
Since the 2018 bill was enacted, the Texas Farm Bureau found that farmers have experienced market volatility, inflation, supply chain issues and natural disasters.
“With supply chain disruptions, with inflation [around] 300% on inputs, fertilizer, fuel cost, and with historic droughts, they have been up against some serious headwinds,” said District 19 Representative Jodey Arrington.
Advocates took all of the aforementioned issues into account when drafting more than 60 proposals for the new bill, including funding for conservation programs, helping new farmers get loans, and streamlining nutrition programs to get food to low income families.
“There will be a global food shortage that will come sooner than we anticipated. We need American farmers to satisfy that new demand,” Rep. Arrington said, although “It generally takes a couple of years, building up to a farm bill- legislative negotiation- where you listen to the various stakeholders from across the country.”
Those stakeholders include nonprofits like the Plains Cotton Growers.
“A five year bill is kind of unique. We can sort of plan in a small window, but we never would’ve guessed that we were gonna experience the type of weather-related incidents that we’ve experienced this year,” CEO for Plains Cotton Growers Kody Bessent said. “Be it drought here or all the wildfires and now flooding you see in California, and that’s something we have to adjust.”
Now, advocates are asking legislators to consider improving crop insurance and “Title I, that producers typically rely upon to weather some of the systemic price decline that we see in the marketplace. We also have to have farm policy to keep us at a level playing field in a global market,” Bessent explained.
“We’ve got to get those policies right to bring stability to the ag economy, to bring some certainty to our producers of all kinds around the country, and to allow us to prosper in rural America,” Rep. Arrington added.
The 2018 Farm Bill expires Sept. 30, 2023, but negotiations may last longer.