Clements: The farm bill process is underway as lawmakers begin hashing out the details included in a draft bill this week. American Farm Bureau Federation congressional relations director Andrew Walmsley says the proposed bill released by the House Agriculture Committee continues the spirit of the 2014 farm bill.
Walmsley: We’re excited that we have a draft farm bill out and legislation to look at. We see it building upon the changes in the 2014 farm bill, while also taking into account the very dire situations we’re seeing across farm country.
Clements: Changes in the bill include finding improvements for risk management tools and changes in conservation.
Walmsley: It is calling for some improvements for additional research on how to improve risk management tools for farmers across the country, those impacted by hurricanes or other unique risks that they’ve faced recently. There are quite a few changes within the conservation programs. One of the biggest ones is we see the Conservation Stewardship Program being moved into EQIP. There’s also some improvements to CRP. Overall, we see it as a good first step moving the bill forward.
Clements: The bill also includes programs to set funding and standards to move forward with developing rural broadband. Bill markup will begin Wednesday.
Walmsley: We’re excited about that process. Hopefully that means that there will be some type of House floor action shortly thereafter. We’re closely watching the Senate to see when Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow are ready to move their bill, which we understand could be here pretty soon. So, hopefully getting a bill to the president’s desk before the end of the year.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.