The 2018 Farm Bill Bustos helped craft as a Conferee passed the House and is expected to be signed into law
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who served as a Farm Bill Conferee, voted to pass the 2018 Farm Bill. The final version of the Farm Bill was negotiated by a select group of House and Senate members to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill into bipartisan legislation.
“The Farm Bill is an essential piece of legislation that provides our family farmers with the support they need to continue putting food on the plates of Americans across our nation,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “Although this process was far from perfect, I am glad we were able to pass a long-term bipartisan Farm Bill that provides our growers and producers with the certainty they need during these turbulent times.”
Now that the Farm Bill has been passed by both the House and the Senate, it will move to the President to be signed into law.
Several bills Congresswoman Bustos wrote have been included in the final version of the Farm Bill, including:
- The Farmers of Tomorrow Act: If signed into law, this legislation would change regulations to make it easier for young farmers to buy land and put roots down. Specifically, with rising farmland real estate prices, this bill would modernize requirements so that more young farmers can access USDA loans. There’s a specific provision in here to ensure that more veterans have the opportunity to go into farming too. Congresswoman Bustos introduced this bill last December.
- The Rural Health Liaison Act: This would create a new rural health liaison at the USDA to improve coordination and funding mechanisms to improve the delivery of healthcare to rural America. The USDA continues to be on the frontlines in the battle against opioid addiction and the Rural Health Liaison would be in position to spread best practices across small town America to address this ongoing challenge. Additionally, the USDA has the ability to finance the construction of hospitals and the implementation of programs for telehealth and health education. The Rural Health Liaison would promote the awareness and availability of these resources, and provide guidance and technical assistance to USDA field offices and staff on how to best serve their communities. The Rural Health Liaison would also coordinate with other government agencies on rural health issues. Congresswoman Bustos introduced this bipartisan legislation in February.
- The Addiction Recovery for Rural Communities Act: This bill would help rural Americans better leverage USDA Rural Development programs to combat opioid and heroin use. Specifically, the legislation would set aside 20 percent of the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program grant funding for substance abuse treatment. It would also prioritize USDA Community and Facilities Direct Loan and Grant applications focused on substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services – which will help incentivize the establishment of new treatment centers. Finally, it will prioritize USDA Rural Health and Safety Education grant funding for applicants seeking to improve education and outreach on opioids and other substance abuse issues. Congresswoman Bustos introduced this legislation in July 2017 with Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly.
The Farm Bill also includes $350 million to help the 23 million rural Americans without service. Bustos helped lead The Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Act, which seeks to close the digital divide by awarding loans grant combinations for rural broadband projects.