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Area congressmen get provisions in new farm bill

Southwestern Illinois congressmen praised the details laid out in the newly approved $867 billion U.S. farm bill, which is heading to the president’s desk for a signature.

soybeansgeneric“Getting a farm bill across the finish line this year for our farmers has always been my goal and I’m glad we are going to deliver,” said U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who released a statement Wednesday after the House passed the 2018 farm bill. He served on the conference committee for both the 2014 and 2018 farm bills. Davis, a Taylorville Republican, represents the 13th Congressional District.

The Senate passed the bill earlier this week.

“This bill maintains programs critical for Central Illinois farmers, strengthens agricultural research, and improves protections for organic products,” Davis said. “We’ve written a strong bill for our farmers, but 80 percent of this bill is SNAP. While there is a slight increase in employment and training, not every able-bodied adult will have access to this job training program like they would have under the House bill. This is a missed opportunity, and if our economy is going to continue grow, we’re going to need to fill the jobs that are open. I hope Democrats in the House will set the election aside and make this a priority next year.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, who represents the 12th Congressional District, also voted for the House-Senate compromise Agriculture and Nutrition Act (H.R.2), commonly known as the farm bill. The House legislation, which authorizes agricultural and nutrition policy for the next five years, includes provisions Bost introduced to aid beginning farmers in growing their operations and help existing farmers enhance their nutrient management practices.

Highlights include:

-Protects crop insurance.

-Maintains flexibility for commodity protection programs (ARC and PLC). Davis said he fought to ensure farmers can choose between these programs in both the 2014 and 2018 farm bills.

-Consumer demand for organic products continues to increase and this bill makes positive changes to support organic products by placing higher scrutiny on organic imports, helping farmers who seek organic certification, and increasing funding for organic research.

– Strengthens agricultural research. It includes Davis’ bill (H.R. 5071, the Agricultural Research Advisory Board Improvement Act) to ensure USDA’s research focuses on agriculture’s most needed priorities and helps universities, like the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, continue important research.

-The bill authorizes $350 million per year for loans and grants for rural broadband. It also ensures access to broadband that meets minimum requirements for today’s technological age.

-Provides flexibility to the administration to prevent the abuse of state waivers to exempt work requirements and a $14 million per year increase to employment and training programs within SNAP.

-Increases funding for local food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) by $206 Million over 10 years.

“Protecting our agricultural economy is essential to the sustainability of our rural areas,” said Bost. “Illinois’ 12th Congressional District is the most diverse in terms of agriculture in the entire state. I made it a priority to listen to the over 10,000 producers in my district, so I knew what they needed most. I’m proud of the provisions I fought to have included in this Farm Bill and I encourage President Trump to provide our farmers certainty by signing this legislation into law.”

Bost provisions included in the Farm Bill:

• Section 2502 – Expands options for agriculture producers to access nutrient management technical assistance (Nutrient Management Technical Service Provider Certification Act)

• Section 5103 – Modernizes Farm Service Agency’s Guaranteed Loan Program (Bale Act)

• Section 2304 – Improves farmers’ ability to recover nutrients (Nutrient Recovery Systems Amendment)

Lynn Rohrscheib, chairwoman of the Illinois Soybean Growers, said sound farm policy provides producers with stability, “and that’s much needed in today’s down farm economy and changing trade environment. Illinois Soybean Growers applauds the bipartisan efforts that recognized our needs, heard our concerns and put together legislation that will benefit both urban and rural communities.”

Illinois is the top soybean state in the nation.

“To compliment the work of the Farm Bill, ISG continues to champion for expanded market access, long-term trade solutions and a biodiesel tax credit that supports an important and valuable market for Illinois soybeans,” Rohrscheib said. “Illinois soybean growers call for continued progress on those legislative priorities.”

Illinois Farm Bureau cited Davis’ work in its statement.

“Illinois Farm Bureau appreciates the opportunities Congressman Davis created for our members to provide input into this farm bill. We appreciate his leadership and effort. He listened to us and made it a better bill. This conference report will help farmers across Illinois at a time of declining market opportunities combined with price uncertainty,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert.

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