Floor Vote anticipated in May on 2018 Farm Bill. The House Ag Committee version grows CRP from 25 million to 29 million acres.
On Wednesday Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever attended The House Agriculture Committee hearing for the 2018 Farm Bill (HR 2), which passed out of committee along a party line vote 26-20. This mark-up experienced an unusually partisan and heated debate among members on both sides of the aisle over disagreement on the nutrition title. Historically in past Farm Bills, the agriculture committee has been very bipartisan and generally worked well together to get a bill moved forward.
While the conservation title was not discussed in much depth during the hearing, the bill includes several of PF/QF’s top initiatives. These include an acreage increase for CRP up to 29 million acres, and $50 million in funding for the Voluntary Public Access Program that states use to open up private lands for public hunting. However, we do have concerns about long-term funding scenarios where it appears funding would be cut over a 10-year time period.
In summary, the bill also increases the Environmental Quality Incentives program (EQIP) funding to $3 billion, phases out the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), funds the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) at $500 million (there is a new provision that now makes forest land eligible for easements), and adds $250 million of baseline funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (TX) will now move the bill for a full floor vote that is anticipated for May. It is unclear at this point if there enough support and votes to pass the House. In addition, the Senate is expected to release their version of the Farm Bill in May.
As always, your calls into members of congress are critical to getting a Farm Bill with a strong conservation title.
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