Omnibus Spending Bill Clears House; Senate Passage Due Friday to Avoid Shutdown

Snow man with an orange conehead & stick arms in front of the US Capitol
Everyone is on deadline
Mar 22, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the House passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that funds the federal government through September 30.  The text was released just last night, setting up a sprint to pass the legislation before Friday evening to avert another government shutdown.  

Positive provisions for the rice industry include an industry compromised revision to Section 199A of the Tax Cut & Jobs Act, a permanent exemption from SAM/DUNS reporting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) applicants, and additional funding for the Food for Peace food aid program.  

The bill also provides discretionary funding of $23.3 billion for USDA through September of this year.  This funding level is $2.4 billion above FY17 funding levels, and largely ignores President Trump’s call for billions in cuts to USDA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) programs.
The revision to Section 199A seeks to balance the playing field between co-ops and private or independent businesses by revising the 20 percent deduction on gross sales to co-ops to instead allow farmers selling to co-ops to deduct 20 percent on net business income.  Farmers selling to co-ops also will be allowed to claim any pass-through deduction from the co-op.  The fix was negotiated by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the National Grain and Feed Association but was briefly in jeopardy as Republicans and Democrats sought concessions during negotiations of the omnibus package.
The bill includes a permanent exemption from SAM/DUNS reporting requirements for producers participating in conservation programs and appropriates $874 million for conservation operations.  It also appropriates $1.7 billion for the Food for Peace program, which provides American grown food for foreign countries experiencing chronic hunger crises, and prevents the closure of county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.
“USA Rice is pleased with the bill that was passed by the House this afternoon and we're hopeful that the Senate will consider and pass the legislation without delay,” said Ben Mosely, USA Rice vice president of government affairs.  “Several of the provisions, including the permanent exemption from SAM/DUNS reporting, are measures that we have been seeking for several years, and will help our producers streamline their farm operations.”

The Senate must act by midnight Friday to avoid a government shutdown.

A summary of the agriculture provisions in the omnibus package can be found here.