President Trump Signs Stopgap Spending Bill to Fund Farm Payments

Brian German Agri-Business, Funding

stopgap spending

The stopgap spending bill that was overwhelmingly passed by the House last week progressed through the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 85 to 15.  President Donald Trump signed the spending bill last Friday, ensuring the government avoids another costly shutdown in the short term and will continue trade-aid payment dispersal to farmers and ranchers.  The bill is only a temporary remedy to keep the government funded through November 21 while work continues to address the concerns regarding the 12 annual spending bills for Fiscal Year 2020.    The eight-week extension contains several provisions important to agriculture.

The spending bill averts another government shutdown and also allocates $20.5 billion to reimburse the account that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses to dispense payments related to the trade assistance package.    Replenishing the Commodity Credit Corporation will ensure the department does not exceed the borrowing limit of $30 billion while the agency continues to distribute funding support to farmers and ranchers under the Market Facilitation Program (MFP).  The final language of the resolution also requires Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prepare a report by October 31 detailing the payments that have been made for the MFP since it first began last year as well as what is being projected for next year.  USDA will also be required to provide Congress with a breakdown of how trade damages are assessed.

The stopgap bill also provides the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service with $16.4 million in funding to support the new help production program under the 2018 Farm Bill.  The measure also forgoes the matching requirement of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative.  Lawmakers are hoping that the continuing resolution will be the only stopgap spending bill that will be necessary for fiscal year 2020, which officially begins on October 1. 

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West