Early Friday morning, the House of Representatives voted to support a two-year budget deal that includes an extension to keep the government open until March 23, 2018.
The vote came nearly six hours after the federal government had been forced to shut down after the Senate failed to pass the measure before midnight.
Included in the 652-page Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 are provisions that will lift an underwriting limit on revenue insurance products for livestock, make cotton eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program, and reduce the cost of the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers.
Also included in the agriculture provisions are $2.4 billion in aid to farmers affected by last year’s hurricanes, and improvements to the several existing USDA disaster programs.
For livestock producers, the $125,000 payment cap was eliminated. Lifting the cap will allow Livestock Indemnity Program payments to producers forced to sell livestock for reduced prices due to natural disaster. This retroactive change will offset some of the reduced payments ranchers received following the 2017 wild fires.
The inclusion of the cotton and dairy provisions in the two-year budget bill paves the way for agriculture committee members to get to work on the 2018 Farm Bill.
Many congressional sources anticipate that these changes will allow the committees to move a new Farm Bill this spring, possibly before the Easter Break.
Editor's Note: Joy Philippi is a fourth-generation pork producer and farmer from southeast Nebraska. She has been actively engaged in public policy and regulatory affairs advocacy for many years. For more information or to contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org