WASHINGTON – The 2018 farm bill is headed to President Trump for his signature after both chambers of Congress approved the legislation. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 87-13 on Dec. 11; the legislation passed the House in a 367-47 vote on Dec. 12. The bill will cost $867 billion over 10 years.

“This is a huge win for the livestock industry,” said Jim Heimerl, president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). “The ability to respond to foreign animal disease emergencies is critical to safeguarding the well-being of our animals, our economy and the safety of our food supply.”

Highlights of the legislation include mandatory animal health and disease preparedness funding of $120 million, which the US Dept. of Agriculture will be able put toward a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank, disease surveillance and diagnostic support from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and block grants for states to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak.

“America’s cattlemen and women want common sense and certainty from Congress this holiday season and throughout the year — today they received that through the passage of the Farm Bill,” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester said. “Certainty that a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank will be authorized and funded. Certainty that important conservation programs will be reauthorized and funded. And certainty that trade promotion and access to foreign markets will remain a priority in the years to come.”

The bill also includes funding the International Market Development Program — which includes the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program — that supports exports of US-made agricultural goods.

“This 2018 farm bill is a complete package — one that will serve all Americans,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Farm and ranch families in particular will find a good degree of risk management support they need to help them weather the prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy that many of us are facing. Next year, we are going to face continued challenges across farm and ranch country, and this new farm bill gives us the tools we will need to weather this ongoing storm.”

The current bill omits controversial elements that previously stymied negotiations such as more restrictive work requirements for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and limits on states’ authority to waive work requirements for some SNAP recipients.

“The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill is good news because it provides a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers, who need the dependability and certainty this legislation affords,” Perdue said. “This farm bill will help producers make decisions about the future, while also investing in important agricultural research and supporting trade programs to bolster exports.

“While I feel there were missed opportunities in forest management and in improving work requirements for certain SNAP recipients,” he added, “this bill does include several helpful provisions and we will continue to build upon these through our authorities. I commend Congress for bringing the farm bill across the finish line and am encouraging President Trump to sign it.”