Delaware wins in this year’s Farm Bill

Last year, I invited Sonny Perdue, the new Department of Agriculture Secretary, to come visit the First State. Having been just been confirmed to this important position, some thought a visit to Delaware was an odd choice. Often times, when people think of agriculture in the U.S., they think of dairy producers in Wisconsin or corn farmers in Nebraska or pork producers in Iowa. 

But, on that trip, Secretary Perdue saw first hand just how important the agriculture industry is to the First State. 

Our farmers make a small state like Delaware an agricultural powerhouse. I am pleased that this year’s 2018 Farm Bill delivers major wins to ensure that continues for years to come — both for our consumers and the thousands of Delaware farmers who feed our region and drive our economy. This bill shows exactly what we can accomplish when we work together in a thoughtful, bipartisan fashion on behalf of the American people. 

In the First State, and across the country, dedicated and hardworking farmers face unique challenges that I wanted to address in this year’s bill. Low commodity prices combined with significant uncertainty surrounding this administration’s trade policies have made it very hard for families to plan for the future. This bill provides much-needed certainty to our agricultural sector.  

With my partner Senator Chis Coons, we secured an amendment that would allow Delaware poultry farmers better access to important funds that improve agricultural operations while helping to protect the water we drink, the land we share, and the wildlife that graces our state. I have often said that we don’t have to pick between a strong economy or a healthy environment. With this farm bill, we prove that is, in fact, a false choice.

This year’s Farm Bill also includes important wins that will help fight the opioid epidemic, improve the food assistance programs that feed thousands of Delawareans and develop programs that allow healthcare providers to help low-income patients build healthier diets.

Specifically, the 2018 Farm Bill: 

  • Maintains support for agricultural conservation programs important to Delaware, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) – programs that offer crucial tools to help farmers in Delaware and around the country protect water quality, preserve the land and enhance wildlife habitats
  • Expands crop insurance to help cover crops that are not covered by insurance, while also improving access for veterans, beginning farmers and fruit and vegetable growers
  • Preserves critical food access for millions of families, including thousands of families in Delaware
  • Makes key improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that affirm existing regulations on SNAP work requirements, while avoiding harmful eligibility changes that would take away benefits and create unnecessary obstacles for states and working families 
  • Creates new initiatives to make fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable
  • Fights the opioid crisis through expanded telemedicine and community facility investments to provide critical treatment options for those who suffer from opioid addiction 
  • Contains zero controversial provisions that weaken critical environmental protections and, as a result, is supported by all major environmental and sportsmen groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and Trout Unlimited 
  • Provides funding for farmers markets and organic research 
  • Develops a new “Harvesting Health” produce prescription program to allow healthcare providers to help low-income patients build healthier diets and access more fruits and vegetables

This legislation is exactly what Congress should be doing more of, and I am proud to have helped get it over the finish line in the Senate. With smart policies like those included in the 2018 Farm Bill, Delaware can continue feeding the world while also serving Delawareans and helping to protect our treasured natural resources right here at home.