Conference Report Summary for the Agricultural Act of 2014

By:

Included:

  • Eliminates direct payments and strengthens crop insurance subsidies. Producers can choose between Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), with an additional Supplemental Coverage Option available to PLC. Cotton producers are covered under the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX).
  • Conservation compliance would be required for crop insurance on highly erodible land and wetlands. A ‘sod saver’ provision limits crop insurance subsidies for areas where land is newly converted to cropland (MN, IA, MT, NE, SD, ND only).
  • Consolidates Conservation Programs from 23 to 13. Extends the Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and Environmental Quality Incentive Program.
    • CRP: includes, but decreases funding for the Farmable Wetland Program and provides support for beginning farmers and ranchers through the Transition to Covered Farmer or Rancher provision. Decreases enrolled acres by 1 million acres for the first three years, results in cap at 24 million acres. Contains provisions for emergency assistance and expands the economic use of land enrolled, especially grazing, when consistent with conservation management plans and objectives.
    • CSP: authorizes contracts to improve and enhance existing conservation measures. Adds pastureland and land able to be used for livestock production to eligible land, and requires that producer implement at least two additional priority resource concerns. Caps acres enrolled at 10 million acres at $18/acre through 2022.
    • EQIP: instead of WHIP, payments to improve or restore upland/wetland habitat, habitat for endangered species, fish habitat, and habitat on pivot corners/irregular areas of a field would be available through EQIP. Conservation Innovation Grants were extended and reduces payments for practices that address air quality concerns. Increases the percent of payment that can be made in advance for purchasing materials and contracting from 30 to 50%.
    • Creates the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which merges GRP, WRP and FRPP. This easement program provides matching grants to landowners, but allows the Secretary to waive this requirement if the landowner can match with a donation. Includes funding for agricultural land easements and wetland reserve easements. Contains a ‘viability’ provision to encourage affordable land prices.
    • Creates Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which encourages partnerships for conservation on a regional or watershed scale by having organizations (municipalities, water districts, conservation orgs, etc.) enter into partnership agreements and contracts with producers. It eliminates the AWEP, Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, and the Great Lakes Basin Program and instead uses the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, EQIP, CSP, and the Healthy Forest Reserve Program to provide financial and technical assistance to producers. It includes air quality improvement
    • Other Conservation Programs: reauthorizes the Conservation of Private Grazing Land, Grassroots Source Water Protection program, and Small Watershed Rehabilitation program. Provides mandatory funding for the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.
  • The Healthy Forest Reserve Program is extended and amended, good neighbor provisions are added for Federal forestland. Includes the Forest Roads Provision, which exempts silvicultural activities from NPDES permit requirements.
  • Payment limits are capped at $125,000 for crop insurance and no one with an adjusted gross income of $900,000 or more is eligible for commodity and conservation programs.
  • Wetlands Mitigation Banking receives $10 million in mandatory funding and establishes a 1-1 ratio for acreage.
  • Organic production new crop insurance provision for organic producers, cost-share measure for farmers transitioning to organic production and money for research, marketing, and technology upgrades. Preserves funds for food-hubs and farmers markets.
  • Sugar policy and programs are extended and remain the same.
  • Some dairy provisions eliminated, some changed. Creates a dairy gross margin insurance program, without a supply management feature, but assigns a base at the highest level of production and pays indemnities on that production.
  • Authorizes Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Programs for emergency relief for producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm raised fish due to disease and severe weather, creates a livestock forage disaster program, and authorizes livestock indemnity payments.
  • Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Report provision requires the Secretary of Agriculture to submit a report that reviews and analyzes the costs and effects of each conservation activity that pertains to the conservation of the LPC.
  • Food for Trade Act and Agricultural Trade Act extended.
  • Extends Farm Ownership Loans and is amended to cover other legal entities besides LLCs, eliminates mineral rights appraisal requirement. Farm Operating Loans also now cover other legal entities and the residency requirement for operating loans to youth is eliminated. Microloans are extended.
  • Value Added Agricultural Product Market Development Grants and Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program extended and amended to provide support for beginning farmer and rancher programs, small family farms, geographically disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers.
  • Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is extended and has increased support. Specialty crop research initiatives extended that focus on research, marketing, and pest-and-disease prevention for fruit, vegetable, nut and nursery crops. A provision provides for a fee on Christmas Tree production to fund a marketing campaign
  • Cotton policy is reformed to comply with WTO commitments, which will resolve disputes with Brazil.
  • Hemp agricultural and academic research is now permitted in states which have permitted the growing of industrial hemp.
  • Supports education and research in a wide variety of areas, including funds to research citrus greening. Creates National Animal Health Laboratory Network to respond to emerging or existing bioterrorist threats to animal health and create standardized tests and procedures.
  • Extends REAP and the Bio-refinery Assistance Program, now supporting bio-based chemicals as part of the program. Eliminates subsides for biofuel blending pumps in rural areas.
  • Payments in Lieu of Taxes is extended, which means areas that have high percentages of federal and state land will receive payments to replace income lost in tax revenue.
  • Cuts $8 billion from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Eliminates the ‘heat and eat’ provision, prohibits advertising or recruiting for SNAP, prohibits illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students and the deceased from receiving SNAP benefits, and establishes a pilot mandatory work program for able-bodied recipients.

 

Repeals:

  • Direct Payments
  • Counter Cyclical Payments
  • Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE)
  • Dairy Product Price Support Program,  eventual repeal of Milk Income Loss Contract Program, Dairy Export Incentive Program and the Federal Milk Marketing Order Review Commission
  • Comprehensive Conservation Enhancement Program
  • Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program
  • Wetland Reserve Program
  • Farm and Ranchland Protection Program/ Farm Viability Program
  • Grassland Reserve Program
  • Agricultural Water Enhancement Program
  • Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program
  • Great Lakes Basin Program
  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program
  • Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative
  • Environmental Easement Program
  • Forest Land Enhancement Program and the Watershed Forestry Assistance Program

 

Not Included:

  • The King Amendment, which would have prevented states from setting customized standards for foods and agricultural products, was not included. It was specifically aimed at CA legislation that required imported eggs to meet higher standards for hen-housing.
  • Payment caps are included, but are very high.
  • No provision reforms the Country of Origin Labeling Act (COOL) to ensure the law meets WTO standards.
  • Conservation easement enhanced tax incentive is not included. The enhanced conservation easement tax incentive expired December 31st, so the percentage of AGI that can be deducted has dropped from 50% (or 100% for qualified farmers and ranchers) to 30% for all landowners.
  • No provision moves catfish inspections to the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service, so they remain with the FDA.
  • Proposals to eliminate market and contract protections for livestock and poultry farmers were not included.