April 13, 2018 – -Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) introduced the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) The five-year farm bill restores funding for Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) under the new International Market Development Program. It also seeks to expand and improve crop insurance policies for specialty crops. The bill reauthorizes several programs that support marketing and promotion of specialty crops. It also makes key improvements to the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, while maintaining funding. Finally, the bill increases funding for the Organic Agriculture Research & Extension Initiative (OREI) and provides resources for combatting fraudulent imports of organic products coming into the U.S.
The current farm bill expires at the end of September. The 2018 bill faces challenges in garnering support of Democrats who are opposed to changes made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), requiring stricter work requirements to recipients and from a group of conservative Republicans who seek tighter restrictions than offered in the bill.