Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky this week said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will complete “general timelines” within a few weeks for implementing the 2018 farm law.
He noted that some of the law’s provisions “are almost self-implementing, with clear provisions,” while others spell out actions to be taken but provide latitude on how to achieve them.
USDA has formed a farm bill task force – which met Dec. 21, the day after President Trump signed the bill into law – that is reviewing every provision of the law and assigning agency and staff responsibility for developing implementation plans. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which administers most conservation programs except the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was the only USDA agency that operated throughout the 35-day federal government shutdown because its staff was paid through funding specifically provided for that program.
Censky indicated USDA is prioritizing launching signups for the Dairy Margin Coverage program, which the farm law made retroactive to Jan. 1, as well as the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs that apply to field crops. He also said USDA is planning to conduct a series of “stakeholder listening sessions” within the next few weeks.
Among the farm law’s provisions whose implementation NGFA will be monitoring actively are the rules that cap CRP rental payments at 85 percent of the local land rental value for general signup enrollments and 90 percent for continuous enrollments to discourage entry of prime farmland into the land-idling program.