Passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was passed by Congress late last week. This paves the way for a fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill to be completed in March, addresses the approaching debt ceiling, provides disaster assistance, including for agriculture, and extends the biodiesel tax credit retroactively for 2017.Provisions of the agreement that impact agriculture include fixes for both the cotton and dairy programs in the current farm bill. For cotton, the deal established a seed cotton program, which the American Soybean Association (ASA) supported in communications to Congress and both the Trump and Obama Administrations over the past two years. For dairy, funding allotted to fix the Margin Protection Program will reduce pressure on the Congressional Budget Office baseline when Congress writes the 2018 Farm Bill. Achieving both fixes now rather than delaying the spending bill until late March allows the House and Senate Ag Committees to move forward before Easter, improving chances of finishing the farm bill on time.Shifting gears to biodiesel, the funding package includes a one-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit, retroactive to 2017. While that is not the multi-year extension that ASA supports and has advocated, and while it does not provide certainty for the industry in 2018, it is a positive step for the credit to be reinstated retroactively.ASA appreciates the work of our biofuels advocates in the House and Senate, particularly Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who pushed hard for a multi-year extension of the credit. We share his frustration that we were unable to secure the incentive for 2018, but applaud his continued leadership and the support of all our friends in both chambers.