Farm Bill clears major hurdle, moves on to Senate

Farm Bill clears major hurdle, moves on to Senate

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The 2018 Farm Bill finally passed out of the House Thursday after being held by the Freedom Caucus which was demanding a vote on immigration.

The bill passed by two votes, largely passing along party lines despite a number of Republicans siding with House Democrats. 

The House version of the bill continues Title One Commodity protections for seed cotton which was put into the 2014 Farm Bill back in the Spring. 

"We've managed to weather some pretty difficult economic times between 14 and now," said Shawn Wade, Director of Policy Analysis and Research for Plains Cotton Growers. "Mainly you know through hard work of the industry and good partnerships with the House Ag Committee recognizing the problems that we've had."

It includes more than just agriculture protections. 

"We've made important investment in rural infrastructure like broadband technology to close that digital divide between urban, suburban and rural, and then putting real welfare to work reforms on the food stamp side which represents about 85 percent of the entire Farm Bill spend, about 70 billion dollars a year," said Lubbock Congressman Jodey Arrington.

It will also expand programs to protect rural health care providers after Arrington was able to attach an Amendment providing eligibility requirements in two USDA programs.

"It's such a struggle for rural hospitals and to maintain equipment, purchase the equipment they need, the capital, to acquire the capital to do that whether it's a remodel or a repair to the building it's expensive," said Steve Beck, Senior VP at Covenant Health. "To refinance and unload some of the expense, some of the debt related to the interest and the expenses, the fees on those loans will really help rural hospitals take that money and put it back into their operations."

The Senate must now pass its version of the bill. It will then move on to conference where the two chambers will reconcile any differences before a final vote. 

Law makers have until Sept. 30th before the 2014 Farm Bill expires.

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