After months of bipartisan negotiations, the House Agriculture Committee released the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known as the Farm Bill, on April 12 and scheduled a mark-up on April 18. Much debate in the Farm Bill centers on issues like food stamps and agricultural subsidies, but several programs directed at rural communities are of interest to NGWA members.
Additional drinking water protections were included in the bill. The Secretary of Agriculture is directed to promote water quality and water quantity practices in carrying out any conservation program and increased incentives to farmers were included for practices that have conservation benefits.
Despite efforts by the Trump administration to eliminate the program, the Household Water Well Systems program, which NGWA was integral in creating in 2002, was authorized through 2023 ensuring non-profit assistance will be available to households seeking wells or well systems in rural areas.
Timing on Senate legislation in unclear. The Senate indicated they would like to release their bill soon.
The Farm Bill supports programs that invest in bringing water to rural communities that often rely on wells and wells systems. In addition, many conservation programs in the legislation promote source water protection, ensuring groundwater remains a safe, secure supply of drinking water.