After weeks of uncertainty, a highway bill approved by the U.S. House and Senate Thursday night is expected to save federal crop insurance from $3 billion in cuts included in the Bipartisan Budget Act.
An agreement between House and Senate Ag Committee leaders was said to be in the works to restore the funding in an omnibus spending bill, but that agreement came into question soon after the announcement was made.
Agricultural organizations, like the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), spent days speaking to legislators and discussing the importance of crop insurance for American farmers in an effort to save the program.
“They are fulfilling that promise. That was a little bit scary. We’ve done several hundred Hill meetings and certainly discussions and letters saying this $3 billion cut would truly cripple the crop insurance program. I think we made a good faith effort and it is a success,” Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of Congressional Relations for AFBF, said in a Newsline update.
The president is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk, but Thatcher warns more attacks on crop insurance are expected to move forward.
“I think it’s also a reminder to us that this issue is not going to go away. It will be back in 2016 with a vengeance, we already know that from our opposition already saying we’ve got bills in the works, we see editorials in the papers kind of on a daily basis, so this is not the last time that I will have to defend crop insurance,” Thatcher said.
According to Newsline, restoring the cuts to crop insurance through the highway funding bill also means a long-term plan for American transportation.
“In the end they’ve come up with a five-year bill, pretty good options in there and we feel very positive. We’re certainly supporting the transportation bill in its passage,” Thatcher said.
The bill includes over $300 billion for highway projects over the next five years. The legislation also revives the Export-Import bank.
The bill passed the house Thursday in a 359-65 vote. Soon after, the Senate approved the legislation in an 83-16 vote.
The bill now heads to the president’s desk.