Congress has reached an agreement on the 2018 Farm Bill and Republicans are expected to release the text of the final legislation in the coming days. Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, who led the negotiations, issued a joint statement on Thursday announcing a deal had been reached. After the final text is released, House and Senate negotiators will fight for limited time on the legislative calendar to force a floor vote on the 2018 Farm Bill before the 115th Congress concludes on December 13, 2018.
The final text of the 2018 Farm Bill has not been released as of yet, but Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) hinted the forestry title could be spun-off as a separate bill. The forestry title of the 2018 Farm Bill was among the last pieces of the bill to be finalized, and it is unclear if a final agreement was reached. In previous years, Congress has passed the forestry title separately from the Farm Bill when negotiations stalled over certain forestry provisions.
House Republicans are pushing forest management language that is similar to legislation that repeatedly passed the House but later failed in the Senate. Republicans argue forest management policies that expand categorical exclusions in addition to other reforms of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would improve forest resiliency to wildfires. Democrats and environmental groups paint these arguments as excuses to expand private logging on federal forest land. Senate Democrats have opposed similar Republican forestry proposals in the past including most recently the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (HR 2936).