J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 9 8 POTATO GROWER Huge Vote Propels Strong Farm Bill To The President As one of the final actions in 2018, and in a major victory for specialty crops and bipartisanship, Congress sent a strong new Farm Bill to the President with huge votes in both chambers. In mid-December, a flur- ry of rapid action followed months of stagnation. The House voted 369- 47 to support the final bill, while one day earlier the Senate approved it 87-11. The Senate vote was believed to be the largest ever in support of a Farm Bill. This agreement came nearly three months after the 2014 Farm Bill had expired. If Congress had not made use of the limited time available during the “Lame Duck” session, the absence of a new Farm Bill would have become increasingly apparent as elements of U.S. agricul- tural policy ceased functioning or reverted to their historical predeces- sors as crops began their individual 2019 year. The major points of contention that delayed agreement on a new Farm Bill were largely in the nutrition title of the differing House and Senate bills, though unresolved issues involving payment limits, conservation and specialty crops also existed. It has been several decades since the Farm Bill was passed on time, so the delay was neither unexpected nor irreparable. Regardless, no one wanted to squan- der the work that had already been done, drag the process into a new Congress and start all over again. Throughout this multi-year process, the potato industry and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance pressed for passage of some key pro- visions designed to move our inter- ests forward. Specifically, they included: • Restoring resources for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program that is vital for pota- to trade issues and reforming its operation to make it more respon- sive and efficient. • Ensuring $80 million is available annually for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. This is an increase of $25 million annually over the current available amount. NPC Mes sage by John Keeling, NPC Executive Vice President and CEO