WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the House-Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee has reached a final agreement on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill. As a member of the committee tasked with reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill, Brown fought for provisions that were important to Ohio farmers. Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 50 years, held roundtables around Ohio to hear from Ohio farmers and rural communities about what they wanted to see in the bill. The House will take up the bill this week and the Senate thereafter.
“At the beginning of the year, I pledged to get the Farm Bill done, so that we could provide Ohio farmers with the certainty they deserve,” said Brown. “And I’m proud that this final bipartisan bill will do that. We secured important wins for Ohio dairy farmers, as well as soybean and corn farmers. This final bill protects funding for critical nutrition programs that feed Ohio families, makes historic investments in local foods, and continues to invest in programs to improve water quality in Lake Erie and across the state. Congress should move swiftly so that we can get this bill over the finish line.”
The final bill includes the following Ohio priorities secured by Brown:
Brown’s Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act:
- Brown’s Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act provides permanent funding to help farmers sell their products directly to consumers, create rural jobs, and invest in local and regional food economies.
- The program would fund farmers markets, local food systems, and the popular Value Added Producer grant program and other local food programs that help farmers sell their products and expand their businesses. This new, consolidated program is called the Local Agriculture Marketing Program, or LAMP.
- Establishes a new Harvesting Health program to make local healthy produce available to more Ohio communities. Research has shown that access to fruit and vegetables can reduce hospital visits and reduce the side effects of chronic diseases.
Brown’s water quality improvement bill, the Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act:
- Brown’s legislation would refocus federal investments to improve water quality and soil health.
- These efforts will improve federal conservation programs and better support Ohio farmers by reforming the three largest conservation funding programs to protect waterways while expanding access to quality farmland.
Included Provisions would:
- Create a new Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) program to better promote water quality. This prioritizes enrolling lands in the Conservation Reserve Program that will best prevent runoff and protect water quality.
- Authorize advanced payments for beginning farmers as a part of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). This program would reserve funding for conservation practices that protect drinking water.
- Include reforms to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which would prioritize cover crops and crop rotations.
Provisions that would make improvements to dairy programs in order to better target support for small- and medium-sized producers:
- The Farm Bill replaces the Margin Protection Program (MPP) with the Dairy Risk Coverage program, which invests an additional $100 million to improve affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness for Ohio dairy farmers.
Improving Commodity Programs for Midwestern Crops:
- Bill includes some improvements from the Brown-Thune ARC-II to make the Agriculture Risk Coverage program more workable for Ohio farmers.
- Allows growers participating in the ARC program to update yields.
- Expands and increases funding for market and export promotion programs.
- Protects and improves crop insurance for Ohio growers
- Includes Brown amendment to expand crop insurance coverage to Ohio farmers looking to plant malting barley for the state’s growing beer industry.
Protects the supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):
- Brown secured provisions that protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for hungry families in Ohio, while protecting families in need by helping avoid harmful eligibility changes that would force working families to jump through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops.
Brown-Portman amendment to increase funding for Central State University
- Brown’s amendment would increase the amount of formula funding that Central State University will be able to receive from USDA, after being denied 1890 Land Grant status for more than 100 years.
Investments to Combat the Opioid Epidemic
- Bill includes investments in telemedicine, community facilities, and rural health and safety programs for substance abuse treatment, prevention, and education.
Learn more about the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, here.