11 Jun 2018
Draft Farm Bill Released in the Senate — On Friday, June 8, the Senate Agriculture Committee released their draft of the 2018 Farm Bill. Chairman Roberts requested that proposed amendments be submitted on Monday and the bill is expected to move to the markup stage on Wednesday, June 13, and to be brought to a vote on the floor of the Senate before the July 4th recess.
The Senate bill is a rare example of bipartisan cooperation, and contains several provisions that are advantageous to organic agriculture, including language to improve the integrity of the import supply chain, a substantial increase in funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), and mandatory funding for the organic cost share.
The Organic Farmers Association has made the full text of the bill (1006 pages) available online. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has posted articles on six aspects of the bill of greatest interest to family-scale farms and organic production: Conservation, Agricultural Research and Plant Breeding, Organic Agriculture, Local Food and Regional Development, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, and Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance.
The House version of the Farm Bill, in contrast, was deeply flawed from a sustainable agriculture perspective, and did not find enough votes for passage last month. NSAC's take on what might happen next in the house is available here.