LUBBOCKONLINE.COM – Arrington, area farmers applaud House passing Farm Bill
By Matt Dotray / A-J Media
Updated Jun 24, 2018
The U.S. House passed what Rep. Jodey Arrington of Lubbock calls the most important piece of legislation for West Texas.
Approval of the 2018 Farm Bill in the House — after it failed just a month ago — drew satisfaction from Arrington and applause from the area’s farm leaders. Reports say the Senate will seek to pass its own, more bipartisan, version of a farm bill next week, and the bill will be sent to conference where it could face difficulties.
The House last week passed the $867 billion farm bill in a 213-to-211 vote. The difference between its earlier failed vote
and now was the support of some conservative Republicans who helped defeat it in May by entangling it in an unrelated debate over immigration.
Democrats unanimously opposed the bill due to tougher work requirements for food stamp recipients, which opponents say will toss too many people off government food assistance.
With all that said, getting it first through the House came as a relief to many in the ag business.
Members of the Plains Cotton Growers sent a statement applauding House members and called the legislation critical for cotton producers to ensure long-term stability. The bill continues Title 1 protections for cotton, which was just recently put in place this spring after being left out of the 2014 bill.
“This Farm Bill helps preserve the future of not only our family farms, but our entire industry,” PCG President Stacy Smith said. “Our cotton producers know what it’s like to operate without that safety net, and we need that stability and for our nation’s agriculture to be strong and viable so we can continue to produce food, fiber, and fuel for the future.”
The passage of the farm bill in the House also got support from the National Cotton Council, which sent a press release saying the bill helps cotton producers obtain the financing necessary for capital investments and annual crop production, and will support a healthy and thriving rural economy.
And the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce said agriculture makes up 33 percent of the area’s economy and applauded area representatives for getting it through the House. Chairman Cory Powell said, “Without a good farm bill, our American family farmers would be at the mercy of these foreign governments that can distort markets, and consumers could wind up paying more money for food and fiber. At the Chamber, we know that good farm policy doesn’t just benefit farmers, but consumers as well.”
Many in the national media hailed the passage as a win for Rep. Mike Conaway of Midland, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and his rural colleagues such as Arrington, who also sits on that committee.
In a statement, Conaway said Arrington has been a strong voice for agriculture. “It was great to have a fellow West Texan at my side to help me move this Farm Bill out of Committee and through the House,” he said.
The House bill has been described by growers as a baseline bill. It does include cotton under the list of Title 1 safety nets and maintains such commodities as the price loss coverage and agriculture risk coverage, the marketing loan and the livestock disaster programs. Spending is projected to be about $112 billion less over the course of the bill than in the 2014 Farm Bill.
“For West Texas, there’s nothing more important than the Farm Bill, and making sure we get U.S. ag policy right,” Arrington said in a phone call Friday. “It provides a safety net that’s reliable and actually provides stability and certainty that ag producers of all types need. It’s important to keep our food security and agriculture independence, which is critical to our security.”
Arrington said the bill also represents opportunities for rural communities. Arrington said the bill increases funds for telemedicine treatment and sources to combat the opioid epidemic. And Arrington said it also makes a large investment in technology infrastructure for internet in rural areas.
“I’m just as proud of the investment we’re making in rural communities for years to come,” Arrington said.
Among the benefits Arrington listed, he said the House bill strengthens market risk insurance for corn and cotton producers, the margin protection program for dairy producers, and as many in West Texas note, restored subsidies for cotton. The Congressman said for ranchers it fully funds assistance programs like disease prevention and disaster relief for droughts and wildfires.
Congress is supposed to reauthorize the Farm Bill every five years but political wrangling has threatened its fate. The current law expires Sept. 30. The Senate is expected to vote on it this week.
PCG Email Services – Mary Jane Buerkle, Editor
Plains Cotton Growers Inc.
4517 W. Loop 289
Lubbock TX 79414
Phone (806) 792-4904
PCG Email Services provides news and articles covering cotton generally and West Texas specifically. The weekly PCG newsletter “Cotton News by Email” is also distributed through this service. Articles do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of PCG.