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Loebsack Precision Ag Legislation, Rural EMS & Broadband Funding Included in Farm Bill

Conference Report includes Rural Development broadband funding, Precision Agriculture Act and SIREN Act

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Washington, December 11, 2018 | Joe Hand (202-225-6576) | comments
Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the final Farm Bill Conference report was made public. This legislation represents the final compromise between the House and Senate and is scheduled to be voted on later this week.
 
“I am pleased that the House and Senate were finally able to put aside the partisan games and produce a Farm Bill that will provide Iowa’s farmers and rural communities with the certainty that they need to be able to plan for the upcoming planting season,” said Loebsack. “I am especially pleased that this bill provides funding to build new broadband infrastructure to help expand access in rural areas. It also protects crop insurance that provides a safety net for beginning farmers against crop failures and natural disasters such as the droughts we’ve seen in Iowa the last few years.”
 
The 2018 Farm Bill contains two pieces of legislation that Loebsack has been championing, including the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act and the SIREN Act.

•    The Precision Agriculture Act establishes a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) task force, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to evaluate the best ways to meet the broadband connectivity and technological needs of precision agriculture.
•    Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act creates a $10 million grant program for EMS agencies in rural areas to help address issues they face, including personnel recruitment and retention, providing continuing education and preparedness training, purchasing updated equipment, maintaining adequate coverage during prolonged transport times, and obtaining qualified medical oversight
 
Additional highlights of the 2018 Farm Bill include:
 
Rural Development:
•    Authorizes $350 million per year for new broadband infrastructure.
•    Reauthorizes rural water and sewer infrastructure programs.

Commodities:
•    Allows farmers to update program yields for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage as a way to boost their eligibility for support.
 
Miscellaneous:
•    The bill continues to support a strong Energy title.
•    The bill supports a strong Conservation Title, including maintaining Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and increasing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage to 27 million acres over the course of the farm bill.
•    $300 million in mandatory funding for new animal pest and disease prevention and response programs, including $30 million annually for a national animal vaccine bank.
•    Maintains current SNAP benefits.
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