House and Senate Leaders “Serious” About 2018 Farm Bill

August 07, 2018

The House and Senate have passed their versions of the Farm Bill, the Conference Committee is named, and work has begun behind the scenes at crafting a 2018 Farm Bill from the House and Senate versions.

While organic generally fares better in the Senate version, both have attacks on the authority of the National Organic Standards Board, and both have reasonably good Organic Fraud enforcement bills. See our side-by-side analysis of organic provisions in the House and Senate draft farm bills.


Following the passage of the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill, the four leaders of the House and Senate Farm Bill Agriculture Committees – Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) – named the Farm Bill Conferees, totaling 47 in the House and nine in the Senate. The conference committee will reconcile the differences between the two bills, and come up with a single bill to be voted on by both the Committee and then the full House and Senate.

There are two conferees from New York: Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-16; Representing the Foreign Affairs Committee) and Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20; representing the Energy & Commerce Committee). Because they are not on the Agriculture Committee, it is hard to say if they will have any input other than on those provisions that fall within the jurisdiction of their committees.

While the idea of the Conference Committee is for members from both houses to work out the details of the differences between the House and Senate Draft bills, in recent farm bill cycles, it has been entirely behind-the-scenes with the four leaders’ staff hashing it out. Since the House is already in its August recess, this appears to be the case again. The leaders have committed to an on-time Farm Bill and have actually set a date for Conference wrap-up by Labor Day or ‘soon after’. 

The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018.


Quick Summary of Organic in House and Senate Bills:
OREI – Organic Research: Senate has permanent baseline of $50 m. House has $30 m. funding but no baseline.
Certification Cost Share: Senate has complete funding. House has none.
National Organic Standards Board: 3 terrible provisions in the House; 1 in the Senate. All different – all bad for the authority, role, and structure of the NOSB.
Organic Import/Fraud Enforcement: Similar language in both House and Senate; additional language in each is better and all should be included.
Seeds & Breeds: Good language in Senate; none in House. No funding.
Conservation programs: House eliminates CSP and many other cuts. Senate is ok, and improves (does not fix) EQIP payment limitations for organic
Organic Data Initiative: Both the House and Senate are good on this.
Risk Management Program Reform: The Senate has some good language but fails to require full price elections for all organic products. Nothing in the House.