President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law today at a White House ceremony. This bipartisan reauthorization passed out of the Senate by a vote of 87-13 on December 11 and passed out of the House by a vote of 369-47 on December 12. PIA National supported the compromise bill and, on behalf of our independent insurance agent members, advocated for the House and Senate to pass it.
The legislation was the culmination of efforts from Congressional leaders over the past two years. The Farm Bill includes the federal crop insurance program in Title XI. The fact that the bill did not contain any cuts to crop insurance and only contained minor changes to the crop insurance title shows that there is strong bipartisan support for crop insurance as the main risk management tool for our nation’s farmers and ranchers.
The small changes to the crop insurance title include changes for hemp, forage and grazing, administrative fees, and native sod. The Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of federally-controlled substances and now treats the plant like any other agricultural crop. This will allow hemp farmers to purchase crop insurance for this product like other farmers do for many other crops. The Farm Bill also allows for land that can be both grazed and mechanically harvested in the same season to be allowed to purchase policies for both intended uses in the same season. Furthermore, this Farm Bill raises the administrative fee for catastrophic coverage (CAT) from $300 per crop per county to $655 per crop per county. Lastly, the Farm Bill allows a governor of a state to opt into the native sod provisions if they are not currently already covered by the provision. It also clarifies that native sod acreage that is tilled would be subject to a reduction in benefits for not more than four cumulative years during the first ten years after initial tillage and during which the acreage is insured.
It is a testament to the advocacy from PIA members that the crop insurance title remains strong in the 2018 Farm Bill. Throughout the entire reauthorization process, PIA National advocated for a strong crop insurance title with both the House and the Senate. Crop insurance has been a top priority each year at our annual congressional fly-in (the Federal Legislative Summit), and PIA National also sent out multiple grassroots alerts to our members urging them to show their support for crop insurance. This advocacy laid the groundwork for a positive outcome for crop insurance.
PIA National will continue to advocate for a strong crop insurance program with the 116th Congress as we move forward with the Farm Bill’s implementation.