U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime Senate Agriculture Committee member who has been involved in writing three farm bills during his time in Congress, issued the following statement after the House Agriculture Committee voted to send its farm bill to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The Senate is expected to release its version in the next few weeks. The current farm bill expires on September 30, 2018.
“Today’s vote is an important step in getting a farm bill on the president’s desk before the current bill expires,” said Thune. “Farmers throughout the country are counting on us to deliver on what has historically been a bipartisan farm bill, and I’m confident we’ll be able to accomplish our goal.
“For the last 13 months, I’ve been introducing numerous farm bill-related proposals that I hope are included in the Senate bill when it’s introduced in the near future. I’m glad the House has incorporated several of my proposals, including boosting the acreage cap for the Conservation Reserve Program and making it more of a working lands program. We’ve got more work ahead of us, and I’m eager to continue moving the ball down the field.”
The House farm bill increases the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage cap to 29 million acres, which is just 1 million acres shy of Thune’s proposal in his Conservation Program Improvement Act (S. 909). By increasing haying and grazing opportunities, the House farm bill would help make CRP more of a working lands program, a proposal that is also included in S. 909.
For crop acreage base acres that haven’t been planted to commodity crops for several years, the bill would convert them to unassigned base acres and make them ineligible for commodity payments, which is included in Thune’s Commodity Program Improvement Act (S. 1259).
Finally, the bill expands categorical exclusions, which would increase forest management and treatment landscapes, a proposal that is consistent with Thune’s Forest Management Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 1731).