Urge your members of Congress to support county priorities throughout the implementation of the 2018 farm bill. Programs throughout the farm bill help counties make critical investments in infrastructure, economic development, nutrition and conservation. Preserving these programs is vital to the strength of our local and national economy.
The legislation, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-334), will expire at the end of FY 2023. NACo testified before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee during the bill’s development, securing authorization of several programs of interest to counties, and continues to work to preserve county priorities.
On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law a five-year reauthorization of the farm bill. The president’s signature comes after a bipartisan group of legislators worked for months to resolve disagreements between the two farm bills passed by the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. The final five-year, $867 billion reauthorization will help support county economies and provide critical investments to rural and underserved communities.
Throughout the farm bill process, county leaders helped draft bill text and amendments to preserve and promote key county priorities. Specifically, the final package creates a new Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, reinstates the Undersecretary for Rural Development and codifies the interagency Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development.
Additional provisions include language that would allow counties with regional jails to exclude incarcerated individuals from population caps for funding eligibility under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development programs and a provision that allows counties to use USDA broadband loans and grants for middle-mile projects, which had been prohibited.
The nutrition title of the farm bill, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and accounts for roughly 75 percent of overall spending in the bill, was the biggest hurdle for Senate and House negotiators to overcome as they came to an agreement on a final bill. In the end, the final package maintained existing eligibility and work requirements for SNAP, while expanding job training and other SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) programs originally authorized in the 2014 farm bill.