The U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2018 farm bill on a strong, bipartisan vote, paving the way for a conference with the House of Representatives this summer. The House passed its version earlier in June, mostly along party lines.
The Senate version contains NGWA-supported language, expanding authorization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Household Water Well Systems grant program. The program allows for non-profit groups to provide rural communities with financial assistance to construct wells or well systems. The Senate bill would not only expand eligibility to septic systems, but would also increase the programs authorization level to $40 million each year. Authorization is currently at $5 million.
Conference negotiations between the House and Senate could be contentious due to revisions to programs dealing with conservation, environmental protections in national forests, and low-income nutrition assistance.
The current farm bill, enacted in 2014, expires at the end of September. If Congress can’t reach an agreement, a one-year extension is possible.