Gardner talks 2018 Farm Bill

Senator Cory Gardner described the 2018 Farm Bill as a “significant piece of legislation” covering a variety of items. PIXABAY PHOTOS

RBC | Last week Senator Cory Gardner hosted a teleconference about the 2018 Farm Bill which he described as a “significant piece of legislation” covering commodity, food, trade, credit, research, and energy programs. “Most people associate the farm bill with commodity and nutrition programs,” he said.
Gardner highlighted a variety of items in the current form of the bill including the addition of one million acres to Conservation Reserve Program acres while creating new opportunities to hay and graze those lands without an emergency declaration. He also said that some of the concerns for agricultural haulers regarding hours of service requirements will be addressed, an issue County Commissioner Shawn Bolton has also worked on.
The current bill will legalize hemp as an ag commodity, making it eligible for crop insurance and research funds, reauthorize biofuel programs and attempt to address substance abuse and mental health needs of those involved in the agricultural industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention farmers are five times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
With 80 percent of Colorado currently experiencing some level of drought, Gardner was pleased with his amendment to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program which he said would insure agricultural drought concerns are more effectively addressed. He said the bill will provide for research about how to better use water resources as well.
The nutrition and commodity programs will stay intact with Gardner saying commodity programs (commonly referred to as farm subsidies) provide a, “strong financial safety net for farmers and ranchers” as commodity prices fall.
He also said the crop insurance program will be maintained and described it as “vibrant.”
Senator Gardner expressed hope that several more amendments would be included by the final bill including fire mitigation programs in Colorado forest lands, rural economic development, medical education programs to strengthen rural hospitals, energy efficiency, as well as making it a felony to fly a drone over wildland fires.
According to Gardner the new Farm Bill is expected to come with a deficit reduction score of $90 billion. He anticipates the bill will be voted on in the coming days.