Saying that the farm bill addresses declines in farm stability and adds reforms to the food stamp program, Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup told The Times-Gazette on Thursday that the bill is now on the way to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
“Like so many bills that are big like this one, you put them together about every five years and there are things you like and don’t like,” Wenstrup said. “This bill did include many reforms that will crack down on program abuses and increase the focus on Americans seeking to join the workforce.”
The farm bill, with a projected price tag of $867 billion over the next 10 years, largely continues current farm and nutrition policies and passed the House on June 21 with the Senate passing its own version seven days later.
The two measures were then reconciled by house and senate negotiators, with the bill passing the senate Tuesday by an 87-13 vote, and the house following suit the next day by an equally wide margin of 369-47.
“I think overall it’s a good bill which is the reason I voted for it,” Wenstrup said. “We got a situation going on right now where farm income is down 12 percent from last year so with passage of this bill, I think we’ve gone a long way to help address that.”
He said it will expand federal crop insurance access, contains better risk management options for dairy farmers, and will allow greater flexibility for farmers to use the type of insurance program that best fits their needs.
The Associated Press reported that the bill includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which removes industrial hemp from the list of schedule I controlled substances, and has provisions that allow hemp, barley and hops to be eligible for crop insurance.
It doesn’t make any significant changes to the food stamp program that serves nearly 40 million low-income Americans and it extends subsidies for farm family members, broadening the definition to include first cousins, nieces and nephews, the AP reported.
The final text of the Farm Bill Conference Report included two amendments offered by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) during Senate consideration, according to a news release from his office.
Portman said that he and fellow Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown offered an amendment to ensure that Central State University in Wilberforce can access funding under the Farm Bill.
The release also stated that Portman and Nev. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto attached an amendment to promote rural community economic development, with one of the key points being enhanced broadband for rural Internet access.
It also prioritizes addiction treatment funding for rural areas, he said, “another important step forward at the federal level in our effort to overcome the opioid crisis.”
“We got this done and it’s on the president’s desk,” Wenstrup said. “I think it’s good for our farmers, and that’s a big majority of the 2nd District of Ohio.”
President Trump is expected to sign the legislation next week.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571