By Tyson Redpath, the Russell Group
Last evening, the U.S. Senate approved a new Farm Bill by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of 86-11. Both Senators Feinstein and Harris voted in favor of the legislation. The Senate and House must now negotiate a final bill mending policy difference in the Commodity and Conservation sections as well as deep partisan differences over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program).
Taking stock of California Rice priorities shows a Senate bill with a pivotal conservation change needed to extend the life of EQIP contracts for annual wildlife management practices and the House bill with a stronger Temperate Japonica Rice risk management program including an increased reference price for the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. California Rice will now work with lawmakers to ensure a final bill sent to the President includes both elements.
Meanwhile, a combined effort by several national commodity organizations including CRC will concentrate on a new definition of ‘active farm management’ authored in the Senate bill by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. This change could arbitrarily restrict farmer eligibility for these essential USDA commodity program risk management tools.