Uncertainty looms as 2018 Farm Bill nears expiration

Uncertainty grips agriculture as the countdown to the Farm Bill’s expiration date nears.

The agricultural community is on the edge of its seat as the 2018 Farm Bill inches closer to its expiration date next week. Hopes are high for the passage of a new Farm Bill before the year comes to a close, but there are clouds of uncertainty looming.

Rep. ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is one of the key figures anxiously awaiting the fate of the Farm Bill. In a recent statement, Thompson revealed that there’s a crucial missing piece of the puzzle: data from the Congressional Budget Office.

“We’re waiting on data from the Congressional Budget Office,” Rep. Thompson said. “We’ve given them a number of proposals. [The] USDA’s been pretty good with their technical assistance, but we need more of that to come in.”

This delay in receiving vital data has raised concerns among agricultural leaders who are keen on crafting a Farm Bill that addresses the needs of farmers and the broader agricultural sector.

Amid this uncertainty, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack offers a somewhat contrasting perspective. During a recent press event, Vilsack appeared less concerned about the timing of this year’s Farm Bill.

“We’re going to get a Farm Bill—it’s just a question of what will the Farm Bill be,” Vilsack said. “It’s not a question of when. It’s going to happen.”

While Vilsack’s optimism is reassuring to some, tensions are still simmering on Capitol Hill. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), in a call with reporters this week, shed light on one of the key sticking points in the Farm Bill negotiations: SNAP benefits. Sen. Grassley revealed that partisan differences continue to obstruct the progress of what is supposed to be a bipartisan bill.

As the clock ticks down toward the expiration of the 2018 Farm Bill, the agricultural community, lawmakers, and the American public watch and wait, hoping for a resolution that will support the nation’s farmers while addressing the needs of the most vulnerable among us. The future of the Farm Bill remains uncertain, but one thing is clear – its impact will be felt far beyond the fields of rural America.