6 Policy Issues to Watch Now

03:02PM Jun 01, 2018
Farm Bill
Farm Bill, Farm Policy
( Lindsey Benne )

The constant news stream coming out of Washington DC can almost make you dizzy. Which policy issues will have the biggest impact for your farm?

We recently cornered Jim Wiesemeyer, Washington Policy Analyst for Pro Farmer and Farm Journal, and asked him just that. In the interactive video below, you can select six questions on the left and hear Wiesemeyer’s answers. A few excerpts are below.



What are the top policy issues to watch in the next three months?

Trade policy, especially the renegotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is an important issue to keep an eye on, Wiesemeyer says. If NAFTA 2.0 isn’t settled by early June, the issue won’t be addressed until 2019.


What are the next steps on the farm bill?

The new farm bill faces many hurdles. By June 22 or later, Wiesemeyer says, the House will have another vote on the currently failed House bill. Also in June, the Senate will mark up their farm bill.

“The key to the farm bill will be the conference report,” he says. “The final result will probably look more like the Senate farm bill, which is very evolutionary and not as significant as the House bill, which has major reforms for the food stamp program. When it gets to conference, they key will be to see how President Trump comments on it. Will he threaten to veto if it doesn’t change significant worker reform for food stamps?”


Looking at the 2018 elections, which races matter and which parties do you expect will gain support?

Experts signal the democrats will regain control of the House. “They need a net gain of 23 seats,” Wiesemeyer says. “That may sound like a lot, but on average in a mid-term election, the existing party in the White House will lose at least 30 seats.”

On the Senate side, Wiesemeyer says, 26 democrats are up for reelection and only nine republicans. “The odds would suggest that Republicans will retain control of Senate,” he says.


What do you think will be President Trump’s legacy?

President Trump’s picks of judicial nominees and replacements will be his legacy, as judicial appointments can have decades of impact, Wiesemeyer says.

What are the mega changes you have seen in your career and what do you think could be on the horizon?

In his 40-year career, Wiesemeyer says the major shifts in farming include: round-up ready soybeans, the development of the Renewable Fuels Standard, the creation of really good revenue protection in crop insurance and the rise of Russia as a net exporter.

“Looking ahead, I think we’ll see an increase in the number of irrigation units put in the eastern Corn Belt,” he says. “Economics are yelling they should do that because it can make a different of 40 bu. an acre in the case of corn if you have rain at the right time.”


Want to hear more from Jim Wiesemeyer? Subscribe to his new podcast!