Farm Bill Conference Committee Begins

The House and Senate met in conference committee over the 2018 Farm Bill. Senate Chairman Pat Roberts and House Chairman Mike Conaway joined with Ranking Members Debbie Stabenow and Collin Peterson along with other conferees.

The USDA projects net farm income will decrease another 13 percent this year, making income about half what it was when farm bill conferees met back in October of 2013.

The conferees took turns talking about the bill, with many praising bipartisan negotiations.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says the bill has protected a strong safety net, including provisions strengthening commodity programs. She adds the bill still has some of her priority provisions of reducing Conservation Reserve Program rental rates.

However, she points out the bill needs to recognize the importance of improving animal response and preparedness capabilities, by fully funding a response program.

Ultimately, Ernst says farmers need this bill, "Completion is this farm bill is a must do and must pass. A farm bill can't, can't walk beans, a farm bill can't change the forecast and a farm bill can't restore lost market access. But what it can do is provide our farmers with the tools to navigate this stretch of declining farm income, low commodity prices and a very turbulent trade climate."