Trump Signs $1.3T Spending Measure - Ag Secretary, Farm Leaders Praise Provisions of Bill Affecting Agriculture

March 23, 2018

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $1.3 trillion spending measure, which contains many sections and provisions affecting agriculture and food.


The House on Thursday voted 256-167 to approve the bill, which provides $1.3 trillion in appropriations. The Senate followed early Friday by a vote of 65-32.


Trump signed the legislation after stating earlier on Friday that he was "considering" vetoing the bill over concerns about the program protecting young "Dreamer" immigrants and money for a border wall, the Associated Press reported.


Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, senators and farm leaders issued statements highlighting the main sections and provisions of the package that affect agriculture and food.

"The omnibus spending plan released last night contains a number of our priorities at USDA," Perdue said.


"Fixing the so-called 'grain glitch' 199A problem is simply an issue of fairness. We should not be picking winners and losers through the federal tax code by favoring one side over another.


"Additionally, improving the way we fund wildfire suppression will help us better manage our forests," Perdue said. "If we ensure that we have adequate resources for forest management, we can mitigate the frequency and severity of future fire seasons."


"Increased support for broadband Internet access is in line with administration goals and will be an important boost as we look to improve the economy in rural America," he said.


"Finally, the omnibus clears away red tape for participants in conservation programs by exempting them from having to obtain SAM and DUNS numbers. These were designed for billion-dollar government contractors, not everyday farmers trying to support their families."


"I thank congressional leaders and I look forward to passage of the omnibus containing these extremely important provisions and other items supporting rural America and agriculture," Perdue said.


Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he was pleased "we were able to give farmers and ranchers some regulatory relief, as well as ensure funds for wildfire suppression," and praised the bill for including the following provisions related to agriculture and forestry:


-- FARM Act: The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act exempts air emissions from animal waste from being subject to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) reporting requirements.


-- Animal transport: The omnibus prohibits funding to implement regulations requiring livestock haulers to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) on their trucks to monitor time spent driving. This temporary exemption will allow the livestock industry more time to work with the Department of Transportation to address the unique challenges facing livestock haulers. The livestock sector has been concerned for the welfare of their animals, exposure to potential disease threats, and costs to the industry that will come about should they be required to abide by the ELD regulations.


-- Wildfires: The omnibus provides a solution to address the U.S. Forest Service budget for wildfire suppression and ends the practice of "fire-borrowing," which establishes a fund of more than $2 billion a year, which would increase modestly over a 10-year period. Access to the fund would become available when the cost of wildfires exceeds the 10-year average cost of wildfires, which would be set at the 2015 level. The funding fix will not take effect until fiscal year 2020 meaning current law would remain in effect through fiscal year 2019.


-- Pesticides: Includes extension of current law of Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) through Sept. 30, 2018. The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing and passed a three-year PRIA reauthorization.


Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said, "This bipartisan budget bill includes new investments in our small towns and rural communities in Michigan and across the country. These investments will expand high-speed internet access for rural households, hospitals, schools and small businesses, and rebuild rural water infrastructure so our small towns have access to clean drinking water."


North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven, a Republican, and Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, praised the bill for delaying the requirement for electronic logging devices (ELD) for livestock haulers through Sept. 30.