WASHINGTON—Progress on the upcoming farm bill is critical to both farmers and food assistance program participants. Since the Senate passed its version, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, on June 28, Congressional lawmakers will head to conference to iron out differences between the House and Senate legislation. “The Senate pushed the farm bill one big step closer to the finish line, and the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 provides a solid framework for moving forward,” noted American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. He expressed some concerns about provisions of the Senate version of the bill that make it harder for farmers to manage risk, “but we are confident that those issues can be satisfactorily addressed by the House/Senate conference committee.” Farmers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from passage of a 2018 Farm Bill. The bill supports farmers and helps secure the domestic food supply and provide consumers with quality, affordable food. It also provides a safety net for Americans who participate in federal food assistance programs. Seventy-six percent of the total farm bill budget is devoted to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other direct food assistance initiatives. Today, about 43 million citizens receive such aid. Updated about every five years, the federal farm bill addresses agriculture and other affairs under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since 1933, farm bills have covered commodity programs, trade, conservation, ag research and food and nutrition programs. The current farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014, expires in September. “It’s imperative that the 2018 Farm Bill is passed soon. The farm bill offers a safety net for citizens in need, for domestic food production and for natural resource protection,” said Wilmer N. Stoneman III, director of commodity marketing for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The bill’s safety net helps farmers successfully provide food for our country and abroad, and enables them to enhance their care of our natural resources.” Media: Contact Stoneman at 804-290-1024 or Kathy Dixon, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1137.