farm bill

The Senate and House have passed two versions of the Farm Bill. The differences between the two pieces of legislation now have to be hashed out by legislators. The final bill could have a big impact on low-income residents in our region.


The House of Representatives passed its newest version of the farm bill this week. It includes stricter work requirements for people who get food stamps.

Public Domain / Jean Beaufort

The House did not pass its version of a farm bill last month, but the Senate may have a better shot this week when they consider the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

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The 5th Annual High Plains Organic Conference will take place at the end of this month in Cheyenne, with presentations from agricultural producers, scientists, and policy experts.

The first day will provide an overview of programs that pay farmers for using organic practices and the rules for getting certified. On the second day, participants will discuss topics like choosing seeds, improving soil quality, and livestock health.

Forecasters say drought and wildfire could ravage much of the Western U.S. this summer. To help farmers and ranchers be prepared, the Obama Administration rolled out several programs last week at a press conference for Western governors. Some initiatives could help Wyoming producers.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Robert Bonnie said some short term solutions are necessary. One is to reimburse ranchers who lose livestock because of a lack of grass or water.

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is putting up 235 million dollars in grants for innovative conservation projects around the country.

The grants will support efforts like improving water and soil quality, wildlife habitat, and farmland. The grant was part of last year’s Farm Bill.

Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust director Bob Budd says the grants will tackle big issues.

The Wyoming Farm Bureau says as Congress puts final touches on the Farm Bill it has good things for Wyoming.

If signed into law, the bill would continue the Environmental Program Incentive Program, which is funding that provides incentives for farmers and ranchers to implement sound conservation practices and help protect resources. 

The bill would also provide disaster relief to agricultural producers who have been impacted by severe weather, such as loss of stock from blizzards. 

The Farm Bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday included a one-year extension of payments in lieu of taxes, or PILT.

PILT is money received by counties with federal public land.  The Federal government does not pay property taxes and PILT funds are used to make up for that lack of revenue. The Wyoming County Commissioners Association says the extension is good news for Wyoming.

The farm bill that has been in place for the last five years will be extended at least another nine months as part of a last minute provision under congress’s fiscal cliff package. Instead of a new five-year bill, certain aspects of the old bill will continue until September, like direct subsidies and the food assistance program, SNAP. The extension also offers assistance, including retroactively to last September, for certain programs many Wyomingites hold dear.

The most recent farm bill expired in September and farmers and ranchers are eager to see when Congress will reach a decision on a new bill covering crop insurance, conservation and disaster relief programs.

Passage of the farm bill has proved challenging, as lawmakers battle over cuts to parts of the bill that deal with nutrition programs like the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps.