From regulatory reform to major disagreements with dairy and nutrition policy, the process of passing a farm bill in 2014 has been quite difficult. Although the conference report of the 2014 Agricultural Act passed both chambers of Congress handily, the vote count does not tell the whole story of what it took to get to that point.
It is nearly a $1 trillion piece of legislation. ARA has its full analysis available by clicking here.
The legislation contains numerous provisions beneficial for ARA members, including the protection of a robust safety net, needed reform in the conservation title allowing retailers to better serve their grower customers, and an avenue for growers and retailers to express concerns on chemical security regulations for agricultural products.
Although ARA remains disappointed that the voice of an overwhelming majority was outweighed by a few minority opinions on regulatory reform issues, the passing of this legislation is a victory for ARA and its membership.
On the positive side, crop insurance remains robust, and many of the attacks brought against the program—such as AGI limits—did not reach the report. ARA fought vigorously along side the crop insurance industry throughout the farm bill process and retailers can enjoy a win here.
Conservation compliance was included in the final language, but with generous time allotments for growers to comply. NRCS also recognized ag retailers as an 'eligible partner' for conservation planning. This situation has the potential to be positive for building on an already strong retailer/grower relationship. ARA has been working very closely with NRCS on becoming more involved with helping to administer some programs and will continue to do so during the farm bill implementation process.
Unfortunately, many of the regulatory reforms ARA had pursued were left out of the bill. This means reforms to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), amongst others ARA was hoping to put to bed, will now have to find another avenue for resolution.
Some other highlights:
- ARA saw desired changes to conservation title
- Energy programs remained strong
- USDA brought to the table on security regulations for agricultural products