Davis: Farm Bill Clears First Hurdle
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today released this statement after H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act passed out of the House Agriculture Committee. Next step, will be consideration by the full House.
“Four years ago, I was a freshman on this committee and it was my first opportunity to work on a farm bill and be part of a conference committee, which allowed me to see firsthand our democracy at work. We had our ups and downs, but in the end we got a bill across the finish line – a bill that CBO estimated would save $23 billion, but has now saved $112 billion in mandatory spending. We did this by making good, sound policy changes to both farm and nutrition programs. I believe we can do that again if we remove the politics and focus on the facts.
“This bill is critical to farmers in my district. We protect crop insurance, improve commodity protection programs, strengthen ag research, and increase protections for organic products. Additionally, this bill makes significant investments in rural broadband and workforce training. We improve the goal of the SNAP program for work-capable adults. Now it’s not only about helping work-capable adults purchase groceries, the bill is about helping work-capable adults climb out of poverty. This bill invests historic amounts in our state employment and training (E&T) programs and helps minimize the ‘cliff effect,’ which prevents many on assistance from getting ahead. We took an important step forward today to help end the cycle of poverty and continue to grow our economy.”
Davis offered two amendments to protect the use of innovative crop insurance tools and strengthen protection for organic farm products. Both were adopted and are now included in H.R. 2.
Highlights of the 2018 Farm bill include:
- Protects crop insurance. Davis offered an amendment, which was adopted, to ensure Illinois farmers could continue to use new innovative crop insurance tools, like Market Protection Plans.
- Maintains the ability of farmers to choose between two different commodity protection programs (ARC and PLC), a provision Davis fought for in the 2014 Farm Bill, and the bill makes changes to these programs to better reflect the market and yield conditions faced by our farmers.
- Recognizes that Farmers are the world’s original conservationists by significantly investing in conservation practices that will allow our farmers to be good stewards of the land.
- Addresses our country’s aging farm population by making critical investments and tweaks to programs which allow beginning farmers and ranchers to become the next generation to feed the world.
- Places higher scrutiny on organic imports to ensure the imports consumers purchase are actually organic – protecting the organic market for domestic producers and creating a greater sense of trust by consumers in the USDA Organic Certification.
- Davis’ amendment was adopted to protect the role of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in reviewing and establishing the National List of approved and prohibited substances for use in organic production and handling. Protecting this role of the NOSB gives consumers continued trust in the USDA Organic Seal.
- Includes Davis’ bill, H.R. 5071, the Agricultural Research Advisory Board Improvement Act, which focuses research at USDA on agriculture’s most needed priorities, ensuring our investment in agriculture research goes further.
- Authorizes funding to significantly expand broadband services into our rural areas that need it the most. This investment will be linked to requirements that ensure broadband services provided to rural communities meet standards necessary for rural residents in today’s technological age.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Workforce Training Investments
- Invests historic funding in SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) programs to help states implement a realistic and supportive work solution for work-capable adults.
- Establishes streamlined, simplified work requirements of 20 hours per week for work-capable adults ages 18-59. Children, seniors, disabled, caretaker of a child under 6, pregnant women, and 18-year olds still enrolled in high school are all exempt.
- Does not prevent anyone who is currently eligible for SNAP from receiving SNAP benefits if the work training requirements are followed.
Helps minimize the ‘cliff effect’ that keeps people in poverty by:
- Households can now have up to $7,000 in countable assets (up from $2,250), or $12,000 for households with an elderly or disabled member (up from $3,500);
- Households can exclude from countable assets the first $12,000 in value of one vehicle/licensed driver (up from $4,650/ adult household member);
- Households can exclude from countable assets the first $2,000 in a household’s savings accounts (new exclusion);
- Maintains that counted financial resources. DO NOT include the value of the primary home and lot; household items; business assets, including vehicles used for income producing purposes; property that produces income; retirement savings/plans; funeral plans and burial plots; education savings; and earned income tax credits.
Why SNAP reforms
- There are more people on SNAP today (42 million) with our unemployment rate is 4.1%, the lowest it’s been in 18 years, compared to in 2009 (33 million), during the height of the recession, when unemployment was 9.5%.
- In Illinois, 67% of all work-capable adults receiving SNAP are not working, not because many of them don’t want to work, but because many have not had the training they need to qualify for many of those jobs.
- Our economy continues to recover and grow – there are 6.1 million open jobs in the U.S. right now.
- Individuals who hold full-time employment are 10 times less likely to fall into poverty.
- 82% of all voters support a work requirement for work-capable adults.