November, But Still No Farm Bill
Congress adjourned for the November 6, 2018, mid-term elections without passing a Farm Bill. While it is widely anticipated that they will return after the elections for a lame duck session, it is uncertain whether they will be able to resolve their differences and reauthorize a Farm Bill. Of note are the 39 orphaned programs that expired on September 30. The Trump administration helped to clarify the situation, saying that, while existing programs will continue, no new contracts and no new regulations will be released under the terms of the now expired 2014 Farm Bill.
NGRA is most concerned about the research-related programs authorized by the bill, namely the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), Specialty Crop Block Grant program and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). NGRA has joined with other members of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance to urge Congress to:
- Enhance funding for SCRI
o Since 2008, 288 research projects for specialty crops have been funded, enhancing the industry’s competitive prominence in the domestic and international marketplace.
o SCRI is one of the most oversubscribed research programs; current funding allows for only 10 percent of the requested projects to be funded.
o The anticipated October 1 call for SCRI proposals passed with no announcement.
- Continue strong funding of Specialty Crop Block Grants
o This program is a much-needed effort to help specialty crop producer’s address the challenges and uncertainties of agriculture production.
- Increase funding to combat invasive pests and diseases
o The specialty crop industry strongly supports efforts to protect the domestic market from the increasing threat of harmful plant pests and diseases entering the United States.
o The Farm Bill has provided funding and direction for innovative initiatives that help identify and mitigate offshore threats and improve pest detection and rapid response, including the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network.
The Farm Bill Conference Committee continues to meet. They include the four principals, Chairmen Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Ranking Members Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and 25 conferees. If you have connections with these or other members of Congress, please encourage their support!