Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) joined his colleagues in passing H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, in a vote this afternoon on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 2, also known as the Farm Bill, supports the region’s farmers by keeping in place important crop insurance programs that allow farmers to purchase policies that protect them against financial ruin brought by disease, drought, or other catastrophic events.
In addition, the bill prioritizes working-lands conservation by retaining the best features of the Conservation Stewardship Program and reauthorizing the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. By streamlining the two programs, H.R. 2 enables significant investment in emerging conservation practices like the use of cover crops. The bill also included an amendment encouraging partnership at the watershed level between nonpoint sources and regulated point sources to advance goals of the Water Pollution Control Act.
Included in the legislation was an amendment offered by Congressman Latta to improve connectivity for the use of precision agriculture. That amendment directs the Federal Communications Commission to form a task force in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate the best ways to meet the technological needs of precision agriculture. Precision agriculture is the use of cutting-edge innovation like self-driving machinery, the Internet of Things, drones, and satellite imagery to more efficiently and effectively farm.
“Farmers in Northwest and West Central Ohio help feed the world, and the Agriculture and Nutrition Act provides them with a number of important tools to help them be successful,” said Latta. “While it is known as the Farm Bill, this legislation really benefits all of us. In our area, the reauthorization and streamlining of critical conservation programs will play a pivotal role in our efforts to protect Lake Erie. I’m also glad that my Precision Agriculture amendment was included so that we can take a collaborative approach to overcome obstacles that prevent farmers from fully implementing cutting-edge technology that can help them do their jobs in a way that is safer, more efficient, and better for the environment.”
Other policy changes in H.R. 2 include reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that would promote self-sufficiency and independence for recipients, instead of dependence on the government. In the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, work-capable individuals between the ages of 18 and 59 will be required to work or participate in a job training in order to receive benefits. Exceptions are made for caregivers of children that are six or younger, recipients that are pregnant, or those that are mentally ill or physically disabled.
According to a Foundation for Government Accountability poll, 83 percent of voters support work requirements for SNAP. H.R. 2 also includes fraud prevention provisions to ensure that recipients can’t claim benefits in more than one state at the same time.