06.28.18

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Votes to Pass Bipartisan 2018 Senate Farm Bill

Final bipartisan bill includes key reforms authored by Senator Baldwin to support Wisconsin farmers 

Legislation includes improved risk management tools for dairy farmers, grants for Dairy Business Innovation, mental health resources for farmers and provisions to combat fraudulent organic imports 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today voted to pass the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, which includes several key priorities authored by Baldwin to support Wisconsin farmers and help boost Wisconsin’s agriculture economy. The Senate version passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 86-11. The House and Senate will now reconcile their versions of the legislation before sending a final bill to the President to be signed into law.

“Wisconsin farmers are a key driver of our agriculture economy and rural communities,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’ve met with farmers across Wisconsin and heard about the challenges and uncertainty they are facing. I’ve brought their concerns and ideas to Washington to make sure the Farm Bill works for our Wisconsin farmers. I’ve worked for strong investments and reforms in the 2018 Farm Bill to support our hardworking farmers, and ensure they have the tools to be successful and move our state forward.”

Reforms authored by Senator Baldwin and included in the final legislation are summarized below.

Improving Tools for Wisconsin’s Family Dairy Farmers

Wisconsin’s dairy farmers are facing extremely challenging times with low dairy prices, an oversupply of milk in the region, unfair trade barriers from Canada and broader trade uncertainty. That is why Senator Baldwin secured significant improvements to dairy risk management tools in the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Wisconsin dairy farmers as they work through difficult market conditions.  Those changes have been implemented and Wisconsin farmers now have coverage under the updated program.

Since 2014, prices have dropped by over a third and dairy farmers have weathered this crisis without a reliable safety net. Senator Baldwin’s changes would fix problems with the old dairy MPP and provide a pathway to improved, more flexible insurance tools in the future.

In addition, Senator Baldwin’s Dairy Business Innovation Act was included in the Senate Farm Bill to support dairy product innovation and address oversupply by providing resources to help cheesemakers and other dairy businesses get their start, develop new products and expand markets.

Supporting More Resources for Farmers in Crisis

Washington has been slow to recognize the challenges that farmers are facing and the daily stressors that they experience during difficult years. Senator Baldwin’s FARMERS FIRST Act  was included in the Farm Bill and will provide funding for local mental health resources and expand access to stress reduction strategies and suicide prevention programs for agriculture workers.

Standing Up For Organic Farmers and Consumers by Cracking Down On Fraudulent Organic Imports

Wisconsin is home to over 1,200 organic farmsthe second highest number in the countryand our organic farmers work extremely hard to make sure their products meet strict U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standards. Senator Baldwin worked to include her Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act in the Farm Bill to take on fraudulent foreign imports and ensure that organic farmers abroad meet the high standards for organic products like our domestic farmers do.  

Investing in Agriculture Research and Innovation

The Senate Farm Bill continues investments in agriculture research and Cooperative Extension activities. The Farm Bill includes important advancements in research on seed varieties called for in Senator Baldwin’s Seeds for the Future Act. These provisions will advance the USDA’s research strategy on publicly available seeds across a diverse range of crops, supporting the development of seed varieties that are tailored to unique regional growing conditions and consumer demand that meet the challenges farmers face. This research can give farmers more tools to confront drought, varying growing conditions and to have plant varieties better suited to their area. When farmers grow varieties developed for their region, they often see substantial increases in hardiness and yields.

Promoting Exports through Market Development

In addition to fighting against trade fraud and making sure farmers have a fair playing field, the Senate Farm Bill includes provisions supported by Senator Baldwin that will invest $500 million in trade promotion programs that can expand exports by assisting farmers in establishing and expanding trade relationships.

Improving Rural Infrastructure to Ensure Small Towns have Safe Drinking Water

Safe drinking water is a priority for every community and is essential to the health and economic vitality of Wisconsin’s rural communities. Senator Baldwin secured language from her Rural Water Infrastructure Improvements Act to support rural areas and make sure they have access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation. The Farm Bill reauthorizes USDA’s water and wastewater loan and grant program and increases the maximum amount of financing available for these infrastructure projects from $100,000 to $200,000.