This month’s policy section provides a brief update on the introduction and progress of the House Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), commonly known as the Farm Bill. Additionally, it mentions President Trump’s recent nomination of James (Jim) Hubbard to the be USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

(*To download a PDF of the April Policy Update, please visit our publication library.)

Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) - On April 12, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) introduced the House’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill legislation establishes agriculture, conservation, forestry and food policy. A Farm Bill is passed approximately every five years, and Congress will need to act this year as much of the current Farm Bill (the Agricultural Act of 2014) expires at the end of September 2018.

On April 18, the House Agriculture Committee held a markup on the 600(+) page introduced legislation and voted on a party line vote to pass it from the Committee. Next, the House version of Farm Bill will be taken up for consideration on the House floor. Disagreements on the bill exist between Democrats and Republicans, in large part over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly referred to as the SNAP program), lending uncertainty to the bill’s future. It is unclear if the majority will be able to garner the votes necessary to pass the bill from the House.

The Senate has not yet released its version of a 2018 Farm Bill. Following the release of the House bill, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released a statement in which they stated that they are working together as quickly as possible to produce a bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate and be enacted into law.

In a press release, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) applauded the House Agriculture Committee for its work to develop a 2018 Farm Bill with Forestry Title provisions that would help to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of America’s forests and trees. NASF 2018 Farm Bill priorities can be found here. The Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition, in which  the Council of Western State Foresters and NASF are engaged, sent a sign-on letter to House Agriculture Committee leaders thanking the Committee for incorporating a number of the Coalition’s private forest policy recommendations into the House Farm Bill.

Nominee for USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment - President Trump has nominated Jim Hubbard to be the USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. This leadership role, in large part, oversees the Forest Service. The post requires confirmation by the Senate. Jim previously served for 10 years as the Deputy Chief of State & Private Forestry for the USDA Forest Service and for 20 years as the Colorado State Forester. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue applauded President Trump’s nomination in an USDA press release. NASF also expressed support via a press release.