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President Donald Trump signed H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act, better known as the 2018 Farm Bill, in a White House ceremony Thursday afternoon.
The signing ceremony capped a long journey for the bill which saw bitter divisions over proposed work requirements for food stamp recipients, but ultimately passed with overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress.
“By signing this bill we are protecting our crop insurance programs and funding that producers rely on in times of disaster,” Trump said. “Through fires, floods and freezing weather, we will always stand with American farmers.
“With the passage of the farm bill we are delivering to the farmers and ranchers, who are the heart and soul of America, all sorts of things that they never even thought possible. We are ensuring that American agriculture will always feed our families, nourish our communities, power commerce and inspire our nation. And I’m opening up massive new markets in order to do things with other countries.”
One of the most significant changes to the bill will allow growers to eventually choose between the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) annually starting in 2021. Under the previous bill, farmers were required to choose one program or the other for the five-year life of the bill.
The bill allows for up to a 15% increase in reference prices depending on market conditions. It also provides adjustments to lessen sharp discrepancies in payments for neighboring counties.
Base acres that have been converted to grassland will not be eligible for ARC or PLC, but land owners can apply for a Conservation Stewardship Program contract at $18 per acre.
President Trump just this morning reopened the dispute over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps. USDA issued new rules that would restrict state’s ability to waive work requirements for SNAP recipients. At the signing ceremony the president said he is directing his administration to focus on welfare reform.
The president’s signature marks the first time since 2002 a farm bill has been approved in the same year that the previous farm bill expired.
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