Congressman Comer discusses new Farm Bill
As a farmer myself, I understand the challenges of agriculture, especially the risks that come with the business – like market swings, weather and the trade policies of foreign nations. I know first-hand how tough the last five years have been for farmers as net farm incomes have fallen 52 percent. That’s why one of my top priorities coming to Congress was to get to work on a new Farm Bill that will protect American farmers and strengthen our rural economy. The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 does just that by:
- Protecting the crop insurance program that farmers and their lenders count on to manage the risk of disasters, as well as encouraging the private sector to create innovative new insurance products.
- Lowering premiums for higher coverage levels on the first five million pounds of milk production for dairy farmers through the renamed and improved Margin Protection Program (MPP) - the Dairy Risk Management (DRM) program. This is crucial at a time our dairies face historically slim margins.
- Requiring 20 hours of work per week or participation in job training programs – which are fully funded and spaces are guaranteed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who choose them – for work capable adults to qualify for continued SNAP eligibility. Let’s be clear: seniors, those with a disability, anyone caring for a child under the age of six, and pregnant mothers are all exempt from those requirements. This ensures our neighbors in need can put food on the table and put themselves back on the path to financial independence.
- Reauthorizing the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs through 2023 and making improvements suggested by many of my constituents, including the use of more accurate Risk Management Agency (RMA) data in calculating yields, allowing reference prices to adjust when there are major changes in the markets, and allowing farmers to make a new election in which program they participate in.
- Strengthening programs for beginning farmers and ranchers, providing funding for agricultural education and outreach programs to prepare the next generation of farmers, and creating a new Agricultural Youth Organization Coordinator at USDA to work with groups preparing young people for careers in agriculture.
- Encouraging healthy food choices and lifestyles through increased funding for programs such as the Commodity Distribution Program and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Purchase Program, enabling low-income families to acquire or purchase foods for a sustainable, healthy diet.
- Creating the International Market Development Program to house and streamline previously established market access programs, with the intent to grow the nation’s $140 billion in agricultural exports, improve foreign food and nutrition aid, and promote American agriculture abroad.
- Improving access to broadband service in rural areas and providing tools to combat the opioid crisis through incentive programs and funding prioritization.