WASHINGTON — First District Congressman Roger Marshall was present when President Donald Trump Thursday signed the $867 billion Farm Bill. The massive bill reauthorizes agriculture and conservation programs without any cuts to the food stamp program and received broad bi-partisan support in both houses.
He liked what he saw.
“It was truly incredible to see this process from start to finish,” said Marshall, a House Ag Committee member who was on the House-Senate Conference Committee. “I am so proud of this Farm Bill and happy to report that we have delivered on our promise to provide farmers with 5 years of certainty. This Farm Bill will be a great Christmas present to our producers across Kansas who will see many wins in this bill.”
Trump signed the bill Thursday after the Agriculture Department announced plans to tighten work requirements for recipients of food aid. Negotiations over the farm bill had stalled for months in Congress over a provision by the House to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and over the Senate’s unwillingness to go along.
Coupled with today’s signing, the Department of Agriculture announced that it would move a key focus of the House’s Farm Bill that was lost in the final negotiations forward, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) reform. Secretary Sonny Perdue proposed a rule to restore SNAP’s integrity.
“I am happy to see the White House take the groundwork that the House Agriculture Committee laid and expand upon it to make meaningful reforms to this welfare program,” Marshall said. “This rule helps able-bodied Americans move off welfare and into work, and cracks down on states that are waiving the 20-hour per week work requirements. We want to help people by assisting them in finding work, and preparing them with the skills and training they need so that they can prosper. I am thrilled that the Trump administration is tackling this issue.”
Also part of the bill was the Facilitating Accessible Resources for Mental Health and Encouraging Rural Solutions For Immediate Response to Stressful Times (FARMERS FIRST) Act, to provide our nation’s agricultural community with critical mental health support and resources.
“Farmers and ranchers are facing a net farm income that has been cut in half over the last five years, continued low commodity prices, uncertain market access and unfavorable weather,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, who championed the measure. “The inclusion of this legislation in the Farm Bill will provide the ag community with necessary mental health programs, such as a crisis help line and suicide prevention training for farm advocates during these tumultuous times for our producers. I will continue working with my colleagues to make certain this legislation is implemented in a way that will best serve our farmers and ranchers who need help during trying times.”
A long road
Trump had voiced strong support for stricter work requirements.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the regulation to tighten work requirements was a tradeoff for Trump’s support for the bill.
The farm bill will cost roughly $400 billion over five years or $867 billion over 10 years.
Consideration of this Farm Bill two years ago in Manhattan, by listening to producers, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts said, who chairs the Senate Ag Committee. “We ended up with a bill crafted to address the concerns of all regions and all crops. In a tough economy, the evolutionary, not revolutionary approach of our bill received the most votes of any farm bill in history.”
The Farm Bill received widespread support from more than 900 agriculture groups throughout the country including the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas State University and many more.
“Our first commitment was to provide farmers and ranchers with certainty and predictability and this is what attracted broad, bipartisan support,” Robert said. “I am proud of the members of my Committee who have worked so hard to give rural America the tools to produce the safest and most affordable food and fiber in the world.”
Roberts was also glad to have had the support of Trump and Vice Mike President Pence. “They understood how important this bill is to all Americans, but especially to farm country.”
Technically, the farm bill is known as Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, this is primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government. The comprehensive omnibus bill is renewed every five years or so and deals with both agriculture and all other affairs under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture. The last farm bill was approved in 2014 and funds these programs through this year. The 2018 installment met resistance from both Republicans and Democrats, but eventually cleared both houses of Congress in September.