As reported previously, negotiations on the Farm Bill remain stalled due to non-PRIA related matters including differences in proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as contained in the individually passed House and Senate measures. Meanwhile, EPA’s authority to collect the full level of registration service fees under existing PRIA 3 has been extended through December 7, 2018 as part of a Continuing Resolution that was signed into law on September 28th.
Industry and agricultural interests continue to work in the hopes that consensus on a final Farm Bill, including a permanent reauthorization of PRIA, can be reached in the lame duck session of Congress following the mid-terms. However, there is growing concern that the outcome of the mid-terms, specifically as related to whether Democrats take control of the House, could significantly impact the prospects for passage of a compromise Farm Bill during the lame duck. According to political observers, 72 seats in the House remain in contention with some 50 “on the bubble.” Should the 115th Congress adjourn at the end of this year leaving the Farm Bill unfinished, it is possible that a Democrat controlled House in the next Congress could decide to rewrite a Farm Bill in its entirety thus adding further uncertainty to the likelihood of securing a permanent reauthorization of PRIA this year. It is expected that lobbying efforts will intensify very quickly after the mid-terms with the goal of achieving passage and enactment of a final Farm Bill in 2018.
Meanwhile, the CEOs of a broad coalition of agricultural interests, collectively known as the Ag CEO Council, met recently to discuss the status of deliberations over the Farm Bill and PRIA reauthorization. On October 18th, the group sent a letter to the majority and minority leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees emphasizing the importance of passing a final Farm Bill by the end of this year. Members of the CEO Council explained that finalizing the 2018 Farm Bill will ensure policies that support food safety, production agriculture, environmental quality, crop insurance, animal disease prevention, conservation, research, renewable energy, and new foreign market access. The letter pointed out that agricultural producers need the certainty provided by a long-term reauthorization of the Farm Bill. The CEO Council also wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging Congressional leadership to work with Agriculture Committee conferees in an effort to complete the Farm Bill in the closing days of the 115th Congress.
CPDA will continue to keep its membership informed of further developments on PRIA and the Farm Bill as they occur.