2018 Farm Bill
Every five years Congress is tasked with passing a farm bill that sets the baseline for how agriculture will be treated within the federal government. In December of 2018, Congress did just that with bipartisan support. Below are a few highlights of the 800-page bill.
Increased Crop Insurance Program
The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) are generally maintained. The PLC was strengthened by allowing farmers to adjust prices and yields during “long-term exceptional drought” periods, a key provision for Arizona farmers.
Additional Safety Net for the Dairy Industry
The Dairy Risk Management Program allows for increased coverage on the first five million pounds of milk production and provides coverage for everything over the first five million pounds of production eligible for reimbursement similar to comparable crop insurance policies.
Farmers Market Funding Made Permanent
The bill doubles the amount to $500 million in permanent mandatory funding for farmers markets as well as local and regional food hubs. The permanent funding secured for the Local Agriculture Market Program promotes healthy lifestyles and directly benefits small and medium-sized farms that sell directly to consumers.
Encourages Hemp Production
The 2018 Farm Bill lifts the industrial hemp ban and puts the USDA and state departments of agriculture in control of regulating the cultivation of industrial hemp. Commercial hemp cannot have more than 0.3% of THC. Additionally, CBD that is produced at properly regulated farms is now legal. The hope is that the cultivation of a new crop will assist farmers who are struggling and will create additional income. However, farmers who lease their land may see increased rent in areas where conditions favor hemp cultivatinon.
The Trade Wars
While the Dairy Risk Management program provides additional support for an industry specifically effected by the United States and China trade war – there are no payments begin directly made to farmers who are affected by the trade war. Instead money was allocated for the United States to find new agriculture trade partners.
The Farm Bill increases subsidies for farmers’ family members including nieces, nephews and first cousins to receive certain benefits such as subsidies for healthcare even if they do not work on the farm.
The attorneys at MCR know the value of the agricultural sector to the Arizona economy, are familiar with the challenges and needs of farmers in our region and are willing to help when opportunity or adversity faces those who rely on AgBusiness for their livelihood.
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