The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018: Initial Review

From FarmDocDaily

Background

From the beginning of the debate, the outlook for a farm bill in 2018 was clouded by concerns about relatively lower crop prices, the restricting parameters of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline and the political landscape in Congress (farmdoc daily, April 12, 2018).  Before the farm bill debate began, however, Congress relieved much of the baseline pressure by returning cotton to the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs in Title I and improving dairy assistance in Title I and crop insurance (farmdoc daily, February 14, 2018).  The House Agriculture Committee moved first but stumbled; intense partisanship, particularly over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Title IV, dominated the House debate (farmdoc daily, April 26, 2018May 24, 2018).  The Senate Agriculture Committee adhered to a more traditional path, moving through a largely status quo farm bill with strong bipartisan support (farmdoc daily, June 12, 2018).  Resuscitated in the House but remaining a partisan exercise, the farm bill sailed through the Senate on one of the strongest votes in history but the two versions became stuck in a conference stalemate through the mid-term elections (farmdoc daily, June 19, 2018July 3, 2018August 9, 2018September 27, 2018).

The biggest issues for conference were the controversial provisions for reducing the SNAP program and for eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in the House farm bill (farmdoc daily, October 4, 2018October 17, 2018).  These more sharply partisan disagreements overshadowed the traditional regional debate over farm program design issues (farmdoc daily, July 24, 2018October 2, 2018October 16, 2018December 4, 2018).  Also overshadowing the farm program debate were the unfolding trade and tariff conflicts and the administration’s response (farmdoc daily, July 31, 2018August 28, 2018October 11, 2018October 12, 2018).   Ultimately, the conference stalemate appears to have been broken by the results of the mid-term elections combined with the political realities for SNAP.

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