Farm Bill Pushes Through Senate with Overwhelming 86 to 11 Bipartisan Vote
A successful farm bill provides support for the volatile farm sector and includes essential policies such as price-support programs, crop insurance, and loan guarantee programs. On June 28, the Senate voted to enact the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) with changes and sent it back to the House for approval. The bill originally passed in the House on June 21. The bipartisan desire to rush relief to farmers is well on track to pass each chamber again with a compromise bill and head to President Trump’s desk before the current bill expires September 30.
The new farm bill will help protect farming income, improve USDA loan programs, and deliver a strong crop insurance program for the next five years through 2023. The bill also increases guaranteed farm loan limits from $1.39 million to $1.75 million. Farm income has continually declined over the last four years as commodity prices have fallen. The predicament is expected to worsen as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and trade tensions threaten export markets.
According to the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA), there are over 3,000 community banks with agricultural loan portfolios of at least $5 million. Community banks provide over $139 billion in agriculture loans. The ultimate passage of the bill is great news for community banks with strong agricultural loan portfolios, as it will provide for a safety net for farmers and provide for community banks more assurance for business planning over the next five years. The ICBA has also voiced its opinion on this bill stating they “appreciate the Senate’s action and look forward to working with Congress as the bill is conferenced in the upcoming months to help push the bill across the goal line.” We are also looking forward to seeing the final results of the bill and hope to see more protection in the agricultural loan portfolios of community banks.
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