Rural Kansans respond to farm bill awaiting president's signature

Published: Dec. 12, 2018 at 5:50 PM CST
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The House has easily passed the farm bill, a massive legislative package that reauthorizes agriculture programs and food aid.

The legislation has already passed the Senate and is now headed to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

The measure is the result of months of negotiations by lawmakers. It does not make any significant changes to the food stamp program that serves nearly 40 million low-income Americans. Trump and conservatives had pushed to create new work requirements for food stamps, but the Senate rejected the idea.

The bill reauthorizes agriculture and conservation programs, funds trade programs, expands support for struggling dairy farmers and legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp. The House vote was 369-47.

Thursday, Eyewitness News spoke with farmers and rural Kansas families about what the passed Farm Bill actually means for them.

One topic especially important to Kansas farmers is crop insurance.

"What Kansans tell me over and over is the importance of crop insurance and we've seen farm bills that have been pretty damaging to crop insurance," Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says. "That is not the case in this bill."

The often unpredictable weather is what makes crop insurance so important for Kansans.

"The farm bill is basically a safety net to help protect products when there are droughts, when there's really low prices, things that they don't have control over," says Ellis County Agriculture Extension Agent Stacy Campbell.

Campbell says the farm bill awaiting President Trump's signatures doesn't appear to change much for Kansas farmers.

"A lot of similarities between this farm bill and the one we've been operating under," Moran says. "But you add to that the importance of conservation programs, which land owners, farm owners and ranchers have the chance to enhance the quality of the air, the water and the soil."

The new farm bill will allow farmers to enroll in grain programs every year, instead of every five years. This means farmers can choose the program most beneficial to them based on any given year's price of grain.

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