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News Brief

Nov. 9, 2017DES MOINES, Iowa |  By: Nienow

Updating national farm bill

Iowa plays a large role in the process of creating a farm bill and – with less than one year remaining before the current bill expires – work is underway to draft legislation that will support farmers in the state. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, as well as Representative Steve King sit on the agricultural committees that draft the farm bill. Anna Johnson with the Center for Rural Affairs says initial plans and new ideas are being discussed. They've already identified key focus areas which include strong support for conservation.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) are initiatives that the Center for Rural Affairs believes should be well-funded. They offer financial and technical assistance to farmers while tying payments to performance. The center is also pushing for a bill that will support beginning farmers in rural developments. Johnson says it's also clear that a level playing field doesn't exist for small farmers competing with much larger counterparts. She believes that issue can be addressed, in part, by adjusting crop insurance payments and the method used to determine those payments.

Johnson argues that crop insurance should provide a basic level of support, particularly to small- and mid-size farms, rather than disproportionately benefitting farmers with the most acreage. The current farm bill will run out of funding on Sept. 30, 2018. The first farm bill was created in 1933 and provided subsidies to farmers during the Great Depression. Farm bills are drafted every five years to govern a variety of agriculture programs across the country.