What’s in Title I of the 2018 Farm Bill for Field Crops?

By John Newton, Ph.D.
Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation

Following a prolonged downturn in the farm economy – now entering its fifth year – farmers and ranchers have the risk management certainty they need in the form of a five-year farm bill. Among the changes in the 2018 farm bill are evolutionary improvements to commodity support programs such as the Marketing Loan Program, Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage. Today’s article highlights the provisions of the commodity support programs, excluding dairy, included in Title I of the farm bill. A future Market Intel will review significant enhancements made to the dairy title.

Improvements to Marketing Loan Rates

Marketing loans are used post-harvest and provide an opportunity for growers to use their crops for collateral on loans. The loan value is based on the marketing loan rate, and is a portion of the crop’s value. Risk management support is facilitated by these loans as farmers with a marketing loan may choose to forfeit the crop if the market price falls below the loan rate.

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Governor Northam Proposes Major Investments to Protect Virginia’s Water Quality and Accelerate Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Northam govGovernor Ralph Northam today announced his proposed budget will feature major investments in the protection of Virginia’s natural resources, the first installment of a historic commitment to water quality needs and consistent clean water funding. The governor’s funding strategy would accelerate Virginia’s progress towards its 2025 targets for reduction in the Chesapeake Bay and ensure that the Commonwealth meets its cleanup goals.

“There is no time like the present to take action to ensure the protection of Virginia’s natural resources, and these historic investments will ensure that the Commonwealth honors its commitments to improve water quality and to protect the progress we’ve made on restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Northam. “We have a unique opportunity with this budget to make investments that will yield benefits for generations of Virginians to come, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly on this front.”

The governor’s proposal would increase funding for Virginia’s unique and successful agricultural best management practices (BMP) cost share program, the technical experts needed to assist farmers, and several important nonpoint source water quality programs to $90 million per year by FY 2020. It also dedicates $50 million to the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) to help urban and suburban areas reduce pollution coming off of impervious surfaces.

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EPA and Army Propose New “Waters of the United States” Definition

WOTUS 2Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are proposing a clear, understandable, and implementable definition of “waters of the United States” that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama administration’s 2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” today’s proposal contains a straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain economic growth, and reduce barriers to business development.

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Fair’s Executive Director named to IAFE Hall of Fame

MarleneMarlene Jolliffe, executive director of the State Fair of Virginia and vice president of operations at The Meadow Event Park, has been inducted into the International Association of Fairs and Expositions Hall of Fame.

Jolliffe was recognized Nov. 26 at the 128th IAFE annual convention in San Antonio. Hall of Fame induction is the organization’s highest honor, bestowed in recognition of distinguished achievement in, or contribution to, the fair industry.

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Final Days of the 115th Congress: What it Means for Your Farm Today and Beyond

Ben final

Ben Rowe, National Affairs Coordinator

As we enter the final days of 2018, we are also into the “lame duck session” and final days of the 115th Congress. Although the working days are limited, the list of outstanding legislative issues is lengthy and contains several issues of importance to your farm and the agriculture industry as a whole. Let’s walk through the priority issues still outstanding, and how they may impact your operation.

Farm Bill

The largest bill still outstanding is, of course, the 2018 farm bill. As of this writing, the farm bill has emerged from the conference committee under a tentative agreement as we await final cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. This is good news for farmers amid a prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy and we thank Chairmen Roberts and Conaway and Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson for making the bill a priority for this Congress.

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Matt Lohr Named NRCS Chief

Matt LohrU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Matthew J. “Matt” Lohr to serve as Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In his role, Lohr will provide leadership for NRCS and its mission to support America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in their voluntary conservation efforts through a network of over 3,000 offices in communities nationwide.

“Matt has committed his entire life to the betterment of agriculture,” Perdue said. “The knowledge and experience he brings to the table will help ensure our locally-led, science-based approach continues to offer farmers the conservation solutions needed to enhance their environment and commercial viability.”

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Goochland County farmer re-elected president of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation

WP2Goochland County hay and grain producer Wayne F. Pryor of Hadensville was elected Nov. 29 to a seventh two-year term as president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Elections of officers and directors were held at the VFBF 2018 Annual Convention in Hot Springs.

Pryor served as Farm Bureau’s vice president from December 1998 through November 2006 and has been a member of the organization’s board of directors since 1988.

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Franklin County producer re-elected Farm Bureau vice president

scottsinkFranklin County farmer Scott E. Sink of Blacksburg was elected Nov. 29 to a fourth two-year term as vice president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Elections of officers and directors were held at the VFBF 2018 Annual Convention in Hot Springs.

Sink chairs the VFBF National Affairs Committee and is a member of the Emerging Agriculture Enterprises Advisory Committee and Legislative Advisory Committee. He also is a member of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC board of trustees and a board member of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability. He is a past chairman of the VFBF Young Farmers Committee and past board member of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

Additionally, he is a past president of Franklin County Farm Bureau.

Sink also is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation Federal Deficit Task Force and a past vice chairman of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. In addition, he serves on the American Agricultural Insurance Co. Farm Initiative Farmers and Ranchers Advisory Committee.

He and his wife, Mendy, were the 2010 recipients of the AFBF Excellence in Agriculture Award. They operate SES Agricultural Enterprises, which produces beef cattle, hay, agricultural services and agritourism opportunities. They also own Hethwood Market in Blacksburg, where they sell locally grown produce and offer catering services. Sink holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from Virginia Tech.

The Sinks have two daughters, Mekinsley and Mehailyn.