By NACD Director of Government Affairs Coleman Garrison
As the 2014 Farm Bill expiration quickly approaches, NACD has ramped up communication efforts with policymakers to determine the next steps. Based on the conversations with congressional staff and House and Senate Agriculture Committees leaders’ statements, it is likely the Sept. 30, 2018, expiration date will come and go without a new farm bill or extension of the previous bill. As conservation districts interact with landowners in their communities and continue to work with USDA agencies, NACD wanted to provide an update on what to expect.
NACD received word the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) anticipates without a full-year extension, most new enrollments for farm bill programs will be put on hold. These programs are authorized on a year-to-year basis. With an expiration or short-term extension, USDA will not have the authority to process new applications. Based on the current versions of the House and Senate Farm Bills, Congress intends to change USDA programs to the point that processing new program applications will not be in line with congressional intent.
Current program contract holders will continue to receive assistance, as the year their contract was signed was previously authorized. Additionally, while some functions of NRCS employees are funded through technical assistance dollars from farm bill programs, Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) also funds NRCS staff through the annual appropriations process. Funding for the federal government also expires on Sept. 30, but it is likely Congress will pass a bill funding functions at USDA through Dec. 7, 2018, and avoid a potential government shutdown of NRCS operations.
NACD continues to advocate for a farm bill to be reauthorized as soon as possible. Delaying passage into the next Congress means the whole process would start over. While there are concerns with each chamber’s individual version, NACD believes there is a great opportunity to merge the two farm bills into a final bill supporting the locally-led, voluntary, incentive-based conservation delivery system.
For more information about NACD’s response to each chamber’s version, visit the NACD Farm Bill webpage. Want to contact your Member of Congress? Visit the NACD Grassroots Advocacy webpage for resources and guidance.
Tags: 2018 Farm Bill