The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee has announced the first in a series of field hearings on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill. The hearing, dubbed “Hearing from the Heartland: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Kansas,” will take place Thursday, February 3, 2017 at the McCain Auditorium, on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.
The hearing will be broadcast live and interested viewers can go to the Senate Agriculture Committee website to view the proceedings.
We commend Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their leadership in timely starting the process. As we mentioned in our September 2016 blog, for an easier transition that lessens impacts to farmers and the markets for which they produce, ideally, a new Farm Bill should be adopted before any new crop harvest. The earliest crop harvest in 2019 will occur in mid-to-late May of 2019 when wheat harvest begins in South Texas. Noteworthy, farmers in South Texas will begin planting this crop in the fall of 2018. Dependent upon the complexities of policies adopted in the new Farm Bill the U.S. Department of Agriculture would likely need anywhere from 9-months to 1 year to implement the provisions of a new Farm Bill. That means if the next Farm Bill were timely adopted, Congress should reauthorize farm bill programs by September 2018.
By starting now Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow are giving stakeholders plenty of time to provide input into the process and advocate for what is right and what is wrong with the current Farm Bill adopted in 2014. The Farm Bill contains eleven titles covering Commodity Programs, Conservation, Trade, Nutrition, Credit, Rural Development, Research & Extension, Forestry, Energy, Horticulture and Crop Insurance. Farm Bill spending totals nearly $100 billion annually. The breakdown by Title of farm bill funding includes: Nutrition 77%, Crop Insurance 10%, Commodities 6%, Conservation 6%, Remaining Titles 1%.