Partisan Democratic Proposal to Keep Govt. Open Ignores 2018 Farm Bill Program Commitments 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today blasted a House Democratic measure for abandoning the nation’s farmers and ranchers by blatantly excluding funding for critical 2018 Farm Bill programs that directly benefit Rural America.

House Democrats on Monday unveiled a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding for government operations through Dec. 11.  However, the measure expressly excludes a provision to ensure 2018 Farm Bill farm and conservation programs will be able to continue uninterrupted beyond Oct. 1, the start of Fiscal Year 2021.

“Purposely excluding needed help for rural America is a flat-out snub to the farmers and ranchers who toil to feed and clothe Americans and people around the world—and they do it despite poor markets and a global pandemic,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The House of Representatives must fix this legislation and allow Congress to avoid a government shutdown without making life harder for rural states, like Mississippi.”

Hyde-Smith and fellow Senate Agriculture Committee and Agriculture Appropriation Subcommittee members delivered speeches last Thursday to demand funding to replenish the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and continue 2018 Farm Bill safety net programs before the end of the month.  In her remarks, Hyde-Smith warned that agriculture and conservation programs would “come to a screeching halt” without including specific language in the CR.

Mississippi farmers and ranchers are among the more than 1.7 million farmers and ranchers enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, which the 2018 Farm Bill authorized to help the American agriculture sector weather financial and market disruptions.

Enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate, the 2018 Farm Bill requires many farm and conservation program payments to be made annually, beginning in October.  Absent any provision in the CR allowing the CCC to continue financing authorized activities, significant disruptions will occur across a host of programs, including ARC, PLC, Dairy Margin Coverage, Marketing Assistance Loans, conservation programs, and many others.

“This is not just about supporting American agriculture, or compensating those who agreed to take fragile land out of production and implement conservation improvements to help the environment,” Hyde-Smith said.  “This is about Congress living up to its promises.  Landowners and producers have entered into contracts, and the terms of those contracts must be met.”    

Hyde-Smith argued against the same tactics last year when House Democrats also intentionally sought to omit USDA program provisions in a FY2020 CR.