The long slog of passing the farm bill is nearly over. The House passed the Agricultural Act of 2014 on Jan. 29 by a vote of 251-166. The Senate is scheduled to vote on cloture to end a filibuster against it on Feb. 3 with the final passage vote on Feb. 4. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law at the end of the week. If enacted, the law will help farmers and ranchers create more jobs and assist them in the event of a natural disaster. The direct payment program will be eliminated, which funded farmland owners regardless of whether they grew crops or not. Conservation efforts will be reinforced to protect natural resources. Also the proposed law cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $800 million per year.
As of Jan. 13, funding for Supplemental & Alternative Crops research under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) was slated at $825,000. The current total FY2014 budget for NIFA is nearly $1.28 billion, up $107 million compared to FY 2013 and $69 million compared to FY 2012. On Jan. 27, farm bill managers stated that they “recognize the importance of nationally coordinated, regionally managed canola research and education programs.” In awarding grants for these activities, they encourage the Secretary of Agriculture to “seek input from stakeholders and give priority consideration to proposals that address research needs in production areas with the greatest potential to expand as well as those where canola production is established and needs to be maintained.”