Rep. Vela Supports Passage of Farm Bill Conference Report
Washington –Today, Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX) supported passage of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee Report after earlier this week adding his signature as a negotiator to the completed report. This measure, which finalizes the House and Senate agreement for the landmark 2018 Farm Bill, was passed on the floor of the House of Representatives late this afternoon. As the only Texas Democrat selected to serve as a conferee representing the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Vela advocated for agricultural issues that affect Texas.
The Farm Bill sets federal agricultural policy for the next five years. America’s land and natural resources, trade opportunities, rural communities, and farmers and ranchers all benefit from strong agricultural policy. The Farm Bill increases food security and helps Americans access the nutritious foods they need to keep their families healthy.
“The bill we negotiated protects critical nutrition priorities. Food programs like SNAP and TEFAP help ensure that, in a country of great abundance, children, seniors, veterans, the disabled, and the most vulnerable do not go hungry,” said Congressman Vela. “I successfully worked to include a $25 million Citrus Trust Fund through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and a National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and I secured protections for cotton and sugar programs that are important to the South Texas economy.”
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will no longer face harmful additional work requirements initially proposed in an effort to remove recipients from the program. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) will have a funding increase of $20 million to assist local food banks and organizations with distributing foods to communities.
The $25 Million Citrus Trust Fund was established to support the Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program in an effort to combat pests and diseases that are harmful to the citrus industry. Over the last several years, South Texas citrus growers have taken on the fight against Huanglongbing, commonly known as Citrus greening disease. This trust fund will ensure that growers and scientists have the necessary tools to eradicate the disease once and for all.
The establishment of the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program serves to address the risk of introduction and the spread of animal pests and disease affecting U.S. Livestock. In addition to this program, the 2018 Farm Bill includes a Cattle Fever Tick Program that is designed to receive research and extension grants to assist ranchers and landowners and develop advanced methods for eradication of cattle fever ticks. The combination of these resources will help landowners and ranchers throughout Texas, and the entire country by preventing the further spread of harmful pests, assuring the future success of the U.S. cattle industry.
Cotton and other commodity farmers will now have the opportunity to re-elect their crop coverage through the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, with the option of changing their enrollment yearly beginning in 2021. Additionally, all farmers will now have the ability to update their yields in an effort to determine fair and accurate PLC payments.
After a tough fight over the U.S. Sugar Program earlier this year, the conference report maintains most of the existing program, with an added increase to the raw sugar cane loan rate.
Congressman Vela added, “The passage of this bill is a step in the right direction for the American people. ”
The bill, passed yesterday in the Senate, will now go to the President to be signed into law.