In anticipation of Congressional action on the 2018 Farm Bill, the National Association of Counties (NACo) sponsored a summit for rural and urban county representatives and others to examine key county priorities through the lens of one representative U.S. county: Palm Beach County, Florida.  The summit, attended by RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Mary-Ann Warmerdam, was a combination of educational tours, workshops and panel discussions – all geared towards examining how the Farm Bill touches many facets of American life, including conservation, trade, jobs, infrastructure, research and nutrition.  

The summit was broken into two main segments: mobile workshops and issue dialogues led off by panel presentations.

  • Mobile Workshops

A series of site visits/workshops presented various “beneficiaries” of past Farm Bill provisions, including commodity price stabilization (Glades Sugar House: Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida Mill); water infrastructure development through the Rural Development Title (Glades Lake Region Water Treatment Plant); implementation of conservation programs under the Conservation Title to assist in meeting water quality goals (Florida Crystals Rice Mill); and the role of the food supply chain in the rural economic development, also under the Rural Development Title (TKM Packinghouse).

  • Panel Discussions and Dialogue

The Farm Bill’s Conservation and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP) titles importance to rural and urban counties were part of a dialogue set up by panel presentations from a variety of speakers with experience in each of these areas.  All three panel presentations also described their experience in integrating federal, state and local efforts to meet needs in their community’s.

The summit was timely in that it was announced by U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R-Florida), a member of the House Committee on Agriculture (Committee), that Committee mark-up is tentatively scheduled for April 18, 2018.  The summit was also attended by commissioners/supervisors from both urban and rural counties throughout the nation, as well as several state associations; however, RCRC was the only state organization in attendance from California, giving RCRC a unique opportunity to engage on the issues that affect rural counties in the state.

Detailed information on the 2018 Farm Bill from NACo can be accessed here.