The 2018 farm bill that many in West Texas have been waiting for is said to be ready for congressional approval. After months of contentious debate regarding fine details of the bill, Republicans in the U.S. House say they’ve reached important compromises with House democrats to hopefully ensure the bill’s passage.

On Monday, District 19 Congressman Jodey Arrington, who recently won re-election in November, appeared on the KFYO Morning Show to talk with Dave King and Matt Martin. In the interview, Arrington said, “The good news is, for our producers, for our farmers and ranchers, and for the Ag economy, and for food security in the United States, a farm bill is on its way and it’s going to be a Republican-led farm bill.”

The 2018 farm bill as-is is more than 807 pages long and will cost more than $867 billion dollars over the next 10 years. According to Politico, 75% of the bill’s price tag comes from Democrat-supported amendments to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Signing the conference report for 2018 farm bill (Courtesy of Congressman Jodey Arrington)
Signing the conference report for 2018 farm bill (Courtesy of Congressman Jodey Arrington)

The original farm bill had strict work requirements added to the SNAP program, which many Democrats believed were unfair and limited access for low-income families. Now, those strict requirements are mostly gone, which his increased support among House democrats. But Congressman Arrington insists that the bill should still please his financially conservative Texans.

“All of these improvements, whether it’s cotton back in the farm bill, the safety net, critical infrastructure, broadband technology in rural America. . . All of those things were budget neutral,” Arrington told KFYO. “We won’t be spending a dime or a dollar more than we did in the 2014 farm bill.”

Speaking of the 2014 farm bill, it expired October 1st of 2018, leaving many farmers worried that they might not see assurance of government assistance this year. The pressure on Republicans to pass a new farm bill has increased exponentially over recent weeks as Democrats are poised to take back a majority in the House in 2019.

Aside from SNAP, the 2018 farm bill has expanded the definition of a “family operation”, meaning first cousins, nieces and nephews, and other close relatives could be eligible for commodity subsidies on certain farms. The bill makes it easier for dairy producers to enroll in support programs. Federal crop insurance will continue almost unchanged. And if the bill passes, industrial hemp cultivation will be legalized, allowing farmers to process and sell hemp.

As a member of the Farm Bill conference committee, Arrington signed the final conference report on Monday along with fellow House members. A final vote will be taken in the House as early as Wednesday morning. If all goes well, the bill will then head to the Senate for a vote and finally to President Trump to be signed into law.

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