The farm bill is managed the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is the primary budget and policy for agriculture and nutrition programs nationally. The 2018 $867 billion version of the bill was projected to go in a different direction than in years past, but experts say it looks almost identical to the last bill.
The farm bill is more than just agricultural regulations and subsidies according to Brandon Willis, a professor of applied economics at Utah State University and senior advisor to the former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
“The farm bill is 80 percent nutrition programs,” Willis said. “One of the controversial parts of the farm bill were changes to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, SNAP, formally called the food stamp program.”
Earlier this year the house modified the requirements for those who are eligible for SNAP benefits.
“To remain eligible you had to have more work requirements and this was highly controversial,” Willis said. “The Senate didn’t do that, the house democrats voted unanimously against it.”
And after the last election:
“All the leverage that the Republicans had at that time really evaporated with the election,” Willis said. “That probably helped come together in a conference with the house and the Senate. I think what you’re looking at are no major changes to the nutrition part of the farm bill. Then they had to tie up some loose ends everywhere else.”
Willis said most Utah producers won’t notice a difference with the exception of some improvements to the dairy industry.
The bill has passed the Senate and the House could vote this week, sending the final version to President Donald Trump.