The Farm Bill, signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 20, 2018, was extended by Congress into next year. It was to expire, but congressional Republicans and Democrats could not get their act together for a new Farm Bill, so they extended the old one.

One pretty sure thing, however, is that The 2018  Farm Bill has nothing to say about food safety, and it’s doubtful that the new Farm Bill will either.

Farm Bills are a cornucopia of policies for commodity, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance, and miscellaneous programs.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) isn’t likely to get a mention, even with its public health status and inspection personnel at about 6,200 private establishments producing fresh meat, poultry, and eggs.

The extended  Farm Bill provides certain technical benefits for Food Stamp programs, now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP.

Farm Bills are primarily about money. The extended Farm Bill sets loan limits of $500,000 for direct loans and $1,750,000 for guaranteed loans.  A farmer or rancher with 3 years of experience is eligible for the money.

There are special programs for rural development and tribal good neighbors.  Farm Bills also have funds for farmers’ markets and managing hempIt’s also where the feral swine eradication program is located.

With 2023 ending, Congress found itself without a draft  Farm Bill; it opted to extend the 2018 Farm Bill for another year.  Agriculture interests don’t see one-year extensions as a substitute for a 5-year reauthorization.

The new expiration date is Sept. 30, 2024, meaning a new Farm Bill will have to be passed in the heat of the election year.  Changing economic conditions with weakened commodity prices and shrinking margins have farmers and ranchers worried about shrinking agriculture incomes.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)