U.S. President Donald Trump signed the 2018 farm bill into law during a ceremony on December 20.
Trump was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during the ceremony. The president pointed out that the bill, formally known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, was being signed on Perdue’s birthday.
“We are proudly joined today by so many members of Congress – Republicans, Democrats – who worked very, very hard on this bill. This was really an effort of everybody,” Trump said. “It was a bipartisan success – something you don’t hear too much about, but I actually believe we maybe will be able to over the coming period of time. I hope so. It’s so good for the country.”
“By signing this bill, we are protecting our crop insurance programs, and funding that producers rely on in times of disaster,” Trump said, adding that producers, such as those in Alabama and Georgia, can expect aid after recent hurricanes.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, hailed the signing of the bill.
“I am glad to have had the support of President Trump and Vice President Pence,” Roberts said in a statement. “They understood how important this bill is to all Americans, but especially to farm country.”
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 brings attention to animal health concerns, as it invests US$300 million in the prevention and response for animal pests and disease, according to Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota. Those provisions drew the praise of the Animal Ag Coalition.
The farm bill also includes reforms to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which have the blessing of the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).
However, the just-signed farm bill omitted the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), also known as the King amendment, which was included in earlier drafts of the bill. Named after its author, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, the King amendment called for the end of laws such as California’s just-approved Proposition 12 on the basis that such laws allow one state to regulate agriculture production practices in other states, which King said was unconstitutional. Proposition 12 calls for the end of cages in egg production in California, as well as the sale of eggs produced elsewhere that use cages.
The farm bill was signed into law eight days after it was approved by the House of Representatives and nine days after it was approved by the Senate. Those votes came rather swiftly, as following advancement out of the conference committee, the text of the bill was released on December 10.
Numerous agricultural organizations, like American Farm Bureau Federation, had urged speedy action on the farm bill. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, in September expressed doubts that the farm bill would be approved in 2018.
The previous farm bill was signed by then-President Barack Obama in February 2013, but expired at the end of September.