Summary of Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 Select Provisions

The NCC prepared a preliminary summary of Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Senate farm bill) select provisions.

Published: June 29, 2018
Updated: June 29, 2018

Title I – Commodities

Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage (ARC/PLC)

  • Continues the ARC-County and PLC programs with current reference prices – $0.367/lb for seed cotton.
  • One time, crop by crop election between ARC and PLC for the 2019 through 2023 crop years.  If no decision is made between ARC and PLC, then no payments are made for 2019, and ARC-County is the default option for 2020 – 2023.
  • Maintains the ARC-Individual coverage option.
  • Requires USDA to announce the ARC-County and PLC payment rates within 30 days following end of the respective crop’s marketing year.
  • Includes some enhancements to ARC-County.
    • ARC payments must be based on physical location of the farm.
    • Increases the T-Yield for yield substitutions under ARC from 70 percent to 75 percent.  
    • Requires use of trend-adjusted yields for actual crop revenue and benchmark revenue determinations under ARC.
    • Employs a new actual county yield cascade to improve accuracy and mitigate disparities in ARC payments between counties.    

Marketing Loan Program

  • Non-recourse marketing loan program continued with current loan rates.
  • Upland cotton loan rate continued based on 2-year moving average of the AWP, not to exceed $0.52/lb or less than $0.45/lb.
  • Maintains cotton storage credits.
  • Extra Long Staple (ELS) cotton loan rate maintained at $0.7977/lb and the ELS Competitiveness Program is continued.

Payment Limits and Program Eligibility

  • Continues current $125,000 per person payment limit for ARC/PLC payments; maintains separate $125,000 limit for peanuts.
  • Continues availability of commodity marketing certificates.
  • Lowers current adjusted gross income (AGI) test from $900,000 per person/entity to $700,000 per person/entity.
  • Includes significantly tighter actively engaged provisions that limit only one person or entity in a farm operation to meet actively engaged requirement by providing management activities – all other persons or entities must provide labor contribution to meet requirements for program eligibility.  Significant contribution of active personal management is defined as either 500 hours annually or 25% of the management hours necessary for the operation annually.

Textile Provisions

  • Economic Adjustment Assistance Program (EAAP) continued with mandatory funding and current payment rate of $0.03/lb through July 31, 2021.  Program authorized through 2023 subject to annual appropriations funding.
  • Pima Trust Fund continued with updated eligibility criteria for spinners to allow participation based on previous year and current year use of Pima cotton, with some limitations.  Funding continued at $16 million per year. (Language in Title XII)

Base Acres Review

  • Requires USDA to review the establishment, calculation, reallocation, adjustment, and reduction of base acres under the 2014 Farm Bill and provide a report within 2 years to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

Title II – Conservation

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

  • Increases acreage limitation by 1 million acres from 24 million to 25 million acres.
  • Payments shall not exceed 88.5% of the estimated rental rates.
  • Prioritizes land designated as State acres for wildlife enhancement area with at least 30% of continuous CRP acres for this purpose.
  • Prioritizes land that will help address sediment and nutrient issues to improve water quality with at least 40% of continuous CRP acres for this purpose.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

  • Continues EQIP program at current funding level.
  • Allocates at least 50% of funds for practices relating to livestock production.
  • Extends wildlife habitat allocation of funds.
  • Authorizes the Secretary to provide payment for certain water conservation or irrigation efficiency practices and prioritizes efforts that address regional drought issues.
  • Continues $450,000 payment limit for all contracts during 5-year term of farm bill.

 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

  • Continues CSP with option for a 5-year renewal of contract.
  • Continues the acreage limitation of 8.797 million acres enrollment annually.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

  • Funded at $200 million per year in mandatory funds.
  • Transfers to RCPP 7% of funds and acres annually from the CSP, EQIP, and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

  • Continues the ACEP.

Title III – Trade

  • Creates a Priority Trade Promotion, Development, and Assistance Program that combines the current Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development program (FMD), Emerging Markets Program (EMP), and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC). 
  • Funded at $259.5 million annually with funds allocated to individual programs based on current funding levels (i.e. $200 million for MAP and $34.5 million for FMD), with potentially $6 million in remaining funds annually that the Secretary has discretion to allocate to one or more of the programs.

Title V – Credit

  • Increases authorization for USDA loans to $12 billion annually.  $2 million for direct ownership loans; $2 million for direct operating loans; $4 million for guaranteed ownership loans; and $4 million for guaranteed operating loans. 

Title VII – Research and Extension

  • USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy continued.
  • Establishes a Pollinator Health Task Force.
  • Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research reauthorized with $200 million in funding.

Title XI – Crop Insurance

Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX)

  • Continues STAX for cotton, but only available on farms with no seed cotton base acres or on farms with seed cotton base acres that are not enrolled in ARC/PLC for that crop year.

Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO)

  • Continues SCO crop insurance policy.

Enterprise Units

  • Allow a producer to establish a single enterprise unit by combining an enterprise unit with one or more other enterprise units in one or more other counties; or combine an enterprise unit with all basic units and all optional units in one or more other counties.

Quality Loss Options Research and Development

  • The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation is directed to conduct research and development or contract with others to conduct research and development into various methods to improve quality loss provisions and minimize how quality losses impact actual production history.

Performance Based Discount

  • Beginning with 2020 reinsurance year, allow Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to offer premium discounts for practices that can be demonstrated to reduce risk relative to other practices.  Consider precision irrigation, cover crops, and crop rotation.