New Farm Bill helps Arizona Ag industry

Before the New Year, Congress took a moment out of their sparring to agree on a massive $867 billion farm bill with strong bipartisan support. The bill allocates billions of dollars in subsidies to American farmers. The bill is a hefty one in terms of cost, but its drafters worked within the limits set by the Congressional Budget Office not to increase the federal deficit from prior projections.

“The passage of the 2019 Farm Bill is good news because it provides a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers, who need the dependability and certainty this legislation affords,” noted Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement following the passage in the House.

The bill, which comes in at a whopping 800-plus pages, passed with a 386-47 vote in the House of Representatives and 87-13 in the Senate, showcasing major support in D.C. Back here in Arizona, the bill has the backing of the state’s largest agricultural projects group, the Arizona Farm Bureau.

This Farm Bill continues and strengthens programs that help farmers and ranchers manage risk, steward precious environmental resources, and put safe, affordable, nutritious food on the tables of consumers across the nation,” Chelsea McGuire, spokesperson for the Arizona Farm Bureau said.

The Bureau is looking at the bill as a food security bill, which gives more people in the state access to safe, affordable food. The Farm Bill would provide more than $400 billion for agriculture subsidies and conservation programs. It also lends a helping hand for nutrition assistance programs for families in need all over the United States.

Farmers would see continued access to crop insurance, which makes it a big deal in Arizona as about 70 percent of the farming acres in the state are protected by a form of crop insurance. Another boost posed by the Farm Bill is the allocation of billions of dollars toward programs such as land improvement projects, preventing soil erosion, and increasing irrigation efficiencies.

Farming is, by necessity, a long-term game, and the certainty provided by this five-year bill gives farmers a framework for planning their long-term operational goals. It also helps ensure that the resources we need to farm are around for future generations by incentivizing sound environmental stewardship,” says McGuire.

The bill also helps train the next generation of farmers when experts are looking at the concerns raised by an aging farming industry.The bill contains more nuanced provisions that will help Arizona’s farmers and ranchers thrive. There are programs for beginning farmers that will help them obtain credit and training, funding for a vaccine bank to help manage and prevent animal diseases, and increased collaboration for fighting and preventing wildfires – just to name a few,” adds McGuire.

Nick Esquer

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