Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
This is the seventh in a series of Snapshots breaking down the $867 billion Farm Bill that was signed into law on December 20, 2018, and is effective through fiscal year 2023. Each Snapshot focuses on a particular section or topic within the bill and explains its implications for U.S. agriculture over the course of the next five years.
Policy Name: Title VIII of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, aka the Farm Bill
Location: The 2018 Farm Bill is a bipartisan, federally-enacted law containing provisions and recommendations that are effective on state and local levels.
Overview: Approximately every five years, the United States Congress passes a new Farm Bill whose purpose is to reevaluate the agricultural landscape of the country and determine new protections, procedures, and funding for the various players in this diverse and interwoven network of food producers, traders, and consumers. Read more about the the general purposes and development of a Farm Bill here.
Title VIII of the bill covers forestry practices and policies for foresters and forest owners across the U.S. It is intended to provide guidelines for conservation and health, cultivation, management, and related issues such as wildfires, water quality and protection. This article will address a couple of the programs that play a major role in conservation efforts on non-cultivated lands:
Program/Policy Initiated:The policies discussed here were enacted in previous versions of the Farm Bill, and any reforms or repeals made in the 2018 bill are effective for the 2019 coverage cycle. Effective dates vary from one policy to another and changes may be enacted in waves.
Food policy category: Sustainable Agriculture
How it works: Amendments to the Forestry Title of the Farm Bill for the FY2019-FY2023 cycle include a variety of budgeting and practice changes, and affect family forest owners, foresters, and conservationists. The most important amendments are as follows:
Progress to date: Given how recently the current bill was passed, it is too soon to know how these policy changes will specifically affect specialty crop production in the U.S.
Evaluation: The Forestry Title of the Farm Bill plays an important role in expanding conservation efforts to include uncultivated lands. The 2018 changes and additions show an increased acknowledgement of the importance of these lands and their overseers. Amendments that prioritize programming and funding on a local level are a move in the right direction, as local discretion regarding land and forest conservation has the potential to be more targeted, more efficient, and to provide local farmers and conservationists with more agency when it comes to protecting land and improving sustainability.
Similar practices: To understand the context and significance of the changes in the 2018 Farm Bill, it is useful to compare it to previous versions. To learn more about how the 2018 bill compares to the 2014 version, check out the first resource in the “Learn more” section below.
Point of Contact:
House bill sponsor Mike Conaway (R-TX-11), Washington, D.C., office:
Phone: (202) 225-3605
Or, email his office via this form.