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U.S. House, Senate agriculture leaders reach agreement on farm bill

Staff Writer |
Agriculture leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate said on Thursday that they have reached an agreement on a new farm bill.

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"We're pleased to announce that we've reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill," according to a joint statement from House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Mike Conaway and Pat Roberts and Ranking Members Collin Peterson and Debbie Stabenow.

"We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as CBO scores, but we still have more work to do. We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible," said the lawmakers.

Conaway told reporters Thursday evening that he was pushing to get the bill voted on in the House before Dec. 7 and he expected U.S. President Donald Trump to support the final version.

U.S. farm groups welcomed the news and urged lawmakers to pass the farm bill.

"Continued access to risk management tools, assistance in foreign market development, and conservation and environmental stewardship programs within the legislation are especially important for farmers and ranchers," Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement.

"These programs will help provide certainty to rural America at a time when it is much needed given the financial headwinds so many family farms now face," he said.

Duvall also noted that U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to face challenges outside of the farm bill.

"Every day we struggle to find the workers we need. Exports were once a backbone of U.S. agriculture, but we now face an uphill battle reclaiming our once robust market share," he said.

While the U.S. administration is reviewing the cost and effectiveness of federal regulations, overregulation "remains a burden" that farmers and ranchers cannot afford, he added.

The agreement on the farm bill came after a recent report which showed that U.S. farm bankruptcies have been on the rise for the fourth consecutive year.

The number of farms filing for bankruptcy in the U.S. Upper Midwest region reached at least 84 between June 2017 and June 2018, according to a recent report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

"Not surprisingly, bankruptcy numbers inversely follow the rise and fall of commodity prices," the report said, adding that 60 percent of the bankruptcies were filed in Wisconsin, the country's second-largest milk-producing state.

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