Discussing the new Farm Bill

The farm bill was an important topic at this year's York Ag Expo.

University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension Policy Specialist Brad Lubben took part in a panel discussion about the farm bill. He says the piece of legislation comes along every five years and authorizes farm programs, but also much more. "There are food programs included like SNAP, but also a whole portfolio of farm commodity programs, as well as crop insurance and conservation programs," Lubben said.

There are some changes in the farm bill this year that experts say producers should be aware of. "When it comes to commodity programs, we can think of what we've been living with since the 2014 farm bill, something called Agriculture Risk Coverage or ARC, and something called Price Loss Coverage, or PLC," Lubben said. "Producers had to decide which safety net they would choose in 2014. Now, producers will need to make a new decision on those programs."

Also there are some changes in the farm bill when it comes to conservation. "In the conservation title we see several different programs that fit under that portfolio. A big one that we've known about in Nebraska for decades is the Conservation Reserve Program that's been here since 1985," Lubben said. "It has shrunk over the last 10 years or so, and the enrollment cap has also come down. Well, they expanded that cap from 24-million acres to 27-million acres total, and that gives a little bit of room for new enrollments."

Lubben points out that the farm bill does not address issues such as the current trade outlook. "But the farm bill does provide some important tools that effectively offer something of a safety net to producers to work through the current issues," Lubben said.