Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo
OUR OPINION: Farm bill will have deep impact on Mississippi
This week, Congress passed a massive piece of legislation that will have a deep impact on the Magnolia State.
The 2018 Farm Bill allocates $867 billion over the next decade on a number of programs, including subsidies for American farmers and food stamp programs. It funds various agricultural research efforts, provides insurance for farmers, and supports rural development programs. It even legalizes hemp.
Many farm groups pushed hard for the bill, whose provisions will help farmers who have been hurt by the trade war with China.
It passed both the House and Senate with extensive bipartisan support, and President Trump is expected to sign it next week. All four of Mississippi’s U.S. representatives supported the bill, as did both of its senators. It cleared the Senate 87-13 and then passed the House by a 369 to 47 margin.
The bill will have a deep impact on Mississippi for a number of reasons. Not only does the bill boost agriculture – a major component of the state’s economy – it also includes a number of rural development programs since those programs fall under the auspices of the United States Department of Agriculture. Also, the bill includes food stamp programs, which aid large numbers of Mississippi families who live in poverty.
The state’s Congressional delegation also left its mark on the bill. The final version included Sen. Roger Wicker’s “Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act,” which tasks the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission with making broadband accessible to 95 percent of cropland and ranch land by 2025.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith successfully attached four amendments to the bill, including one that will prioritize research on chronic wasting disease, which has begun to have an impact on the Magnolia State in recent months. Hyde-Smith also pushed for a provision that will expand eligibility for certain loan programs that benefit Mississippi rural hospitals.
In fact, the state has traditionally had a strong relationship with the national farm bill. The last time Congress passed a farm bill, in 2014, it was largely written by former Sen. Thad Cochran.
This year’s bill has the backing of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Foundation, with President Mike McCormick saying it provides “a strong safety net for the state’s largest industry.”
Although there are certainly points of disagreement on such a large piece of legislation, we salute Congress for coming together to pass the farm bill. Its broad bipartisan support speaks to the bill’s strength.
We also highlight the efforts by Mississippi’s Congressional delegation, and particularly Wicker and Hyde-Smith, to ensure the bill fits the needs of Mississippians. We believe it to be a good piece of legislation that will have a deep, positive impact on our state.