WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill conference report by a vote of 87-13:
“I’m proud that the Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan fashion today and pass a strong Farm Bill for Nebraska and all of rural America. From the beginning, I wanted to see a Farm Bill that protected critical risk management programs like crop insurance, improved our trade promotion programs, and deployed broadband in rural areas so agriculture producers can use precision agriculture technology. This Farm Bill achieves all of those goals and more. In a time of uncertainty for farm country, this bill is going to bring confidence, stability, and predictability to our families who feed our hungry world.”
Following passage by the Senate, the Farm Bill only needs to clear the House of Representatives before it heads to President Trump’s desk. The House is expected to vote on the Farm Bill conference report tomorrow.
The 2018 Farm Bill:
- Continues to provide agriculture producers with important risk management tools and voluntary access to farm programs, including: crop insurance, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program.
- Streamlines the trade promotion programs. This will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers marketing products around the globe. These programs are also critical to providing agriculture producers access to international markets.
- Includes the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, sponsored by Senator Fischer, which would create a task force at the FCC charged with identifying gaps in high-speed internet connectivity across America’s farm and ranch land. Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the task force would promote the rapid expansion of high-speed broadband, with the goal of achieving service to 95 percent of agricultural lands by 2025.
- Expands broadband access in rural areas by providing direct loan and grant incentives to encourage public-private partnerships that will expedite investment into rural broadband infrastructure.
- Establishes a program to address animal disease prevention and management, including the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank and the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program.
- Includes language sponsored by Senator Fischer that recommends USDA recognize as a best management practice in conservation programs the use of remote telemetry data systems for irrigation scheduling. It also encourages USDA to incorporate remote telemetry data systems as a best management practice under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
- Reauthorizes and bolsters the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, increasing the integrity of the program so it can better target the most vulnerable.