Montana’s Congressional delegation and the state’s farmers and ranchers are celebrating Tuesday evening after the United States Senate gave approval to a new Farm Bill worth more than $860 billion.
Different versions of the bill have been under debate for weeks, but when it came time to vote, senators passed the package on a sweeping 87 to 13 vote.
Pressure to pass the bill was building as farmers and ranchers worried about the impacts of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on certain commodities, which have caused a slide in some prices over the past few months.
In addition to a new package of farm subsidies, the bill provides money for farmers’ markets and local food co-ops, and legalizes hemp.
It doesn’t include cuts to the food stamp, or SNAP programs, although it does make some revisions aimed at stopping abuse of the program.
The Montana Farm Bureau calls the bill “great for Montana’s farmers and ranchers, as well as for consumers”.
The bill will offer provisions that support production agriculture including risk management, crop insurance, and programs to facilitate market development.
Thirty-seven senators voted in favor of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
The previous Farm Bill expired in September, but now with bipartisan support, the bill moves to the House of Representatives.
Senator Steve Daines and Senator Jon Tester both voted in favor of the bill.
“We need the certainty of the Farm Bill especially in this time of trade wars when we see ag prices going down instead of going up,” Tester said. “Now more than ever we need a farm bill and the Senate finally did its job and got one done.”
Daines released the following statement:
“As Montana’s lone voice on the Senate Ag Committee, and as the chairman of the Senate Western Caucus, I fought hard to ensure we got it done. I look forward to sending this final compromise to President Trump’s desk and getting it signed into law.”
If the bill passes in the House, it will be sent to the president’s desk.