The US Federal Government Extends The 2018 Farm Bill Programs Until 2024
In a significant development for American agriculture, President Joe Biden recently signed a stopgap funding bill, ensuring continued support for various farm programs and food assistance initiatives through September 2024. This extension is a crucial measure for the industry, offering stability and sustained funding for essential programs.
Passed every five years, the farm bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that shapes the U.S. agricultural landscape. The latest iteration, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, was set to expire on September 30, 2023. However, the newly signed law, H.R. 6363, the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024, extends the 2018 Farm Bill, allowing authorized programs to continue through Sept. 30, 2024.
2018 Farm Bill Extension Highlights:
- Safety Net and Price Support Programs: These programs offer crucial assistance to producers managing market fluctuations. The 2018 Farm Bill introduced the Dairy Margin Coverage Program, enhancing coverage levels and reducing premiums, thus providing a reliable safety net for dairy farmers.
- Farm Loans: Access to credit is vital for starting, improving, expanding, and strengthening American farms. The 2018 Farm Bill increased borrowing limits through direct and guaranteed loans and introduced changes to other loan types, including microloans and emergency loans, thereby facilitating financial support for farmers.
- Conservation Programs: Aimed at improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and enhancing wildlife habitats, these programs are a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture. The Farm Bill incrementally raised the acreage cap for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to 27 million by 2023 and initiated two new pilot programs focused on water resource conservation.
- Disaster Assistance: Providing support for agricultural producers to rehabilitate farmland and ranchland damaged by natural disasters, these programs ensure timely assistance and recovery support in the wake of unforeseen calamities.
Additionally, the bill extends support to over 41 million participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), ensuring continued benefits through September 30, 2024. However, it’s important to note that the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program is only funded through January 19, 2024, as WIC is not included in the farm bill. WIC plays a crucial role in supporting 6.7 million low-income mothers and young children with food, breastfeeding support, and other services.
The extension of the 2018 Farm Bill is a pivotal decision in U.S. agricultural policy, offering much-needed stability and support to farmers, ranchers, and forest stewards across the country. It underscores the government’s commitment to sustaining the agricultural sector and ensuring food security for millions of Americans. This continuation also provides ample time for the House and Senate agriculture committees to draft and discuss the next iteration of the farm bill, which is expected to address evolving challenges and opportunities in agriculture and nutrition.