Virginia farmers turn attention to Agriculture Bill

Published 8:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 will expire in September 2023, and federal lawmakers are actively crafting legislation that will regulate agricultural programs for the next several years.

Otherwise known as the 2018 Farm Bill, the Agricultural Improvement Act will make way for the 2023 U.S. Farm Bill late next year. The new bill will authorize hundreds of billions of dollars in program funding for commodity programs, crop insurance and disaster relief, conservation initiatives, food policy, rural development, agricultural research and more.

With the upcoming bill still being developed, agricultural advocacy groups such as American Farm Bureau Federation and Virginia Farm Bureau Federation are acting to ensure American farmers’ best interests are covered.

“Every five or so years, Congress passes a new farm bill to help meet the challenges of an agricultural world that is constantly evolving, and ensure that critical programs continue to benefit farmers, families and farming communities,” said Ben Rowe, VFBF national affairs coordinator.

“Just as farming practices change and adapt to meet consumer needs and demands, the farm bill does the same,” he continued. “It provides a pathway for Congress and policymakers to comprehensively address agricultural and food issues.”

Rowe said Virginia-based representatives are working with AFBF to assess the 2018 farm bill and determine which aspects of the legislation are effective. Collectively, the group is working to improve the next iteration of the bill to address imminent economic and market conditions.

Current VFBF priorities include protecting current farm bill program spending; maintaining a unified farm bill that governs nutrition programs and agricultural programs together; and assuring that changes to existing farm bill policy are made as amendments to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 or Agricultural Act of 1949.

Other concerns include prioritizing risk management tools, funding for federal crop insurance and commodity programs, and ensuring adequate funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture staffing and technical assistance.

A full list of AFBF’s farm bill policy positions may be found online.

“The farm bill is the most significant piece of legislation that affects farmers and ranchers across the country,” asserted AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Since enactment of the 2018 farm bill, farmers have faced significant challenges from market volatility, increased input costs and devastating natural disasters.

“(Farmers) have met the needs of consumers both in America and abroad while continuing to improve our environmental stewardship. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure the appropriate resources are available to craft farm policy that reduces food insecurity, bolsters national security and encourages long-term stability for all of our farm and ranch families.”