The 2018 Farm Bill was signed by President Donald Trump in late December last year. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue gave an update on June 26 on the current implementation status.
“America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers depend on the certainty and availability of USDA’s programs and assistance. That is why we are working diligently to implement the 2018 Farm Bill with efficiency and accuracy,” said Secretary Perdue. “We have listened to our stakeholders and consulted with our customers. As we continue to implement the Farm Bill, USDA is committed to focusing on responsiveness and putting our customers first.”
Listed below are some of the key implementations.
One of the Farm Bill implementations is the technical changes to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs. NRCS published an update on May 6 to make current regulations consistent with the new Farm Bill.
These updates included: requiring $3 million of funds be used to implement the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program to encourage public access for hunting and other recreational activities on wetlands enrolled in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program; expanding the Healthy Forests Reserve Program to allow protection of at-risk species and allow permanent easements on tribal lands; and authorizing certification of technical service be provided through a qualified non-federal entity.
Additionally, NRCS announced in mid-May the investment of $25 million per year over the next five years towards On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, available to farmers eligible to participate in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. NRCS will accept proposals through July 15 for the new On-Farm Trials. NRCS also allocated $12.5 million to support conservation innovation grants on agricultural lands, and proposals will be accepted through July 30.
In mid-April, the Food and Nutrition Service launched the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Online Purchasing Pilot. This pilot will be evaluated to update new regulations of the Farm Bill.
In mid-May, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) increased the loan limits to $600,000 for direct loans and $1,750,000 for guaranteed loans.
In May, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) created the Organic Agricultural Product Imports Interagency Working Group with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The first meeting was held in June.
AMS announced the availability of funding for the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program in April.
The Risk Management Agency implemented the new definition for “veteran” farmer or rancher that gives the same benefit for beginning farmers and ranchers. Benefits include: catastrophic and additional coverage policies administrative fees exemption; 10 percentage points of premium subsidy for additional coverage policies that have premium subsidy; increase in the substitute yield adjustment; and use of another individual’s production history for specific acreage that was transferred to a veteran farmer or rancher that they were previously involved in.
Finally, USDA announced $75 million in funding for a Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program in an attempt to curb feral swine populations. Applications are being accepted through Aug. 19 to be part of the pilot program. — WLJ