News Releases

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Isakson Praises Senate Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

Five-year policy includes numerous benefits for Georgia agriculture, rural communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today praised the Senate passage of legislation to set policy for the next five years to strengthen our agricultural economy in Georgia and the United States. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, H.R.2, known as the Farm Bill, passed the Senate by a vote of 86-11.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 will provide certainty and predictability to farmers and ranchers by improving crop insurance coverage and reauthorizing and improving farm and conservation programs. It also provides assistance to rural communities through expansion of broadband, opioid addiction treatment programs, and support for agriculture programs for veterans.

“Our farmers feed the world, and it’s essential that we do everything we can to anticipate challenges down the road and make sure our policies reflect the needs of our farmers for the long term,” said Isakson, who offered several amendments to the legislation that were adopted to help Georgia farmers. “This important legislation provides numerous benefits for Georgia agriculture and for our rural communities, which are struggling with the opioid epidemic and with lack of access to modern-day essentials such as broadband. The 2018 Farm Bill will help our commodity producers when prices go down, expand trade assistance to ensure we remain competitive worldwide, and invest in the future of American agriculture.”

Contributing an annual $73 billion to Georgia’s economy, agriculture remains the state’s leading industry. Additionally, Georgia is home to a larger variety of agricultural industries than almost any other state.

Poultry is the largest segment of Georgia agriculture with an economic impact of more than $25.5 billion annually to the Georgia economy. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 would give new poultry farmers access to programs that would help them obtain and construct more conservation-friendly structures and farm equipment sooner. Participation in these programs will allow farmers to build more modern, safe, efficient and overall better farm infrastructure while also improving the quality of American farmland.

Ahead of the legislation’s markup in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Isakson led a bipartisan letter to committee members urging that they work to ensure that safety net programs are maintained to protect cotton farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill. Isakson sponsored an amendment included in the legislation to extend funding for an important program that helps modernize and protect U.S. textile factories while also promoting the use of domestic-produced cotton.  

The specialty crop industry contributes $4.5 billion in total economic impact and provides over 31,000 jobs throughout the state. In 2017, a late-season freeze devastated Georgia blueberries and peaches, which are two of Georgia’s largest specialty crops. This USDA-declared disaster led to an 80 percent crop loss for peaches and a 70 percent crop loss for blueberries. An amendment included in the legislation that was offered by Isakson and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., allows for Georgia’s blueberry and peach farmers to access disaster relief following this severe weather event.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version of the Farm Bill on June 21. The bill will now go to a conference committee to work out differences between the two bills.