2018 Farm Bill provides important safety net for farmers

congressIn an uncertain business, the 2018 Farm Bill brings America’s farmers and ranchers five years of certainty by providing improved risk management tools and crop insurance.

“The starting point for every Farm Bill is to protect our country’s ability to grow a safe, sustainable and affordable food supply,” noted American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “The 2018 Farm Bill was a much-needed win for farm and ranch country.”

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation National Affairs Coordinator Ben Rowe added that this is the first time since 1990 that Congress has passed the Farm Bill in the same year it was introduced, and “marks the first time since 2002 that the new Farm Bill was enacted in the same year that the old one expired.

“We commend the 115th Congress on passage of a Farm Bill that will serve all Americans, especially our nation’s farm families, and addresses many concerns expressed by our members.”

Rowe added that the new bill gives farmers greater flexibility in choosing programs to fit their individual operations and “allows prices and yields to be adjusted based on production history and global markets.”

The Farm Bill maintains crop insurance, commodity programs and farm safety nets, Rowe noted. Risk management tools such as Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs were improved by adjusting support levels to respond to market changes, and farmers will have greater flexibility to change programs at designated enrollment times to be sure they have the best tools for their business.

The bill also modernized marketing loan rates, which hadn’t been changed in 10 years. Marketing loans are used after crops have been harvested and provide an opportunity for growers to use their crops for collateral on loans, explained Dr. John Newton, AFBF economist.

Outdated loan rates, Duvall said, “didn’t make good business sense for farmers seeking post-harvest loans, and it was bringing real challenges to family farms across the country. With the 2018 Farm Bill, those rates will be updated and modernized so that farmers and ranchers can keep moving their businesses forward.”

For Virginia dairy farmers, the Farm Bill enhanced the safety net with coverage for small, medium and large dairy farms. Dairymen can participate in both Dairy Revenue Protection and Dairy Margin Coverage on the same milk, Rowe explained.

Other dairy provisions include a milk donation program and enhanced risk management tools for the beverage sector.

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