Passing a disaster assistance bill for agriculture will set the stage for the next farm bill, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) told workshop attendees at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2018 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show.
Ideally, lawmakers will address contentious issues related to cotton and dairy programs in the disaster bill and “get them out of the way” before the farm bill debate heats up, according to Moran said. He noted that the Senate is likely to take up the House-passed disaster aid bill, amend it and send it back as a package.
“We know you’re anxious to see action” on the farm bill but progress is often slow, Moran acknowledged. He also noted that if all of agriculture doesn’t work together, nothing will get done. The House is ahead of the Senate in terms of progress on the farm bill, and overall timing of the legislation is uncertain. Moran did predict the Senate will release its version of the farm bill in the first few months of 2018.
As far as what the upcoming farm bill should include, “the current safety net is not adequate and changes are needed,” Moran said, referring specifically to the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs for crops.
Touching on another current farm policy issue, Moran told farmers and ranchers “we need to make sure exports of farm goods are protected and enhanced, not diminished.” He encouraged farmers and ranchers to “make certain the case is made on the importance of ag trade” whenever they have the opportunity.