With the 2018 farm bill being critically important to Montana’s farmers and ranchers, the Montana Farm Bureau was extremely disappointed that H.R. 2 failed by a 198 for and 213 against vote. The failure to pass this farm bill was a vote against the country’s hard-working farmers and ranchers.
“The House version of the 2018 Farm Bill is good for farmers, ranchers and rural Montana. It protects key features of federal crop insurance, improves commodity programs, and streamlines conservation programs in ways that are good for producers and the environment,” noted MFBF Director of National Affairs Nicole Rolf. “We were pleased that amendments to gut sugar policy, harm crop insurance, and alter payment limits were all defeated. Likewise, we believe that many of the amendments added made it an even better bill, which made it especially disappointing, and shocking, when the bill failed on final passage.”
Amendments that MFBF supported and were adopted before the final vote of H.R 2 included a Federal Communications Task Force to establish reviewing connectivity and technology needs for precision agriculture; expedited salvage operations for areas burned by wildfire; a streamlined process for signing up for Agricultural Risk Policy and Price Loss Coverage; and repeal of the extremely detrimental Waters of the U.S., to name a few.
Don Steinbeisser, Jr., a sugar beet farmer from Sidney, explained that the sugar beet policy is essential. “Without sugar policy, the sugar producers in Montana and the U.S. would have to compete at the world’s dump price. The sugar industry works with the rest of the commodity groups in the U.S. and it’s essential that commodities are supported in the farm bill, so we were happy to see amendments that hurt the sugar program go down.”
“In Montana, we appreciate that Congressman Greg Gianforte supported the farm bill and amendments that would help farmers and ranchers weather hard times due to circumstances beyond their control, including the harsh situations Mother Nature throws at them and world events that depress commodity prices,” said Rolf.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall had strong words for the failure. “We are already starting to hear from farmers across the nation, many of whom are perplexed and outraged at this morning’s vote. They are facing very real financial challenges. We call on all members of Congress not to use farmers and ranchers as pawns in a political game. The risk management tools of the farm bill are too important, particularly at a time of depressed farm prices. We urge the House to pass H.R. 2 as soon as possible.”