Analyst: No farm bill until 2019 |

Analyst: No farm bill until 2019

SPOKANE, Wash. — Congress is most likely to pass an extension of the 2014 farm bill and not write a new farm bill until 2019, Matt Roberts, an Ohio-based economist and consultant told the Tri-State Grain Growers from Washington, Oregon and Idaho at their convention in Spokane, Wash.

Noting that Congress has not passed a farm bill on time in many years, Roberts said his prediction is that there will be an extension in 2018 and that the real bill will come up in 2019.

And the bill is likely to be a “relatively minor update” of the 2014 farm bill, said Roberts, who was an Ohio State University economics professor until early this year when he left to start his own consulting firm, The Kernmantle Group in Columbus, Ohio.

Roberts said he considers trade policy to be “the single biggest risk” in agriculture at the present time.

It will be difficult for Congress to “sell” a full repeal of the estate tax, he said. Even though the House tax bill has a limit on state and local tax deductions and the Senate bill eliminates the deduction, the SALT deduction will return, he predicted.

But the likelihood of a tax reform bill getting passed is still only “50-50,” he said.

Health care will be the biggest issue in the “bitter, bitter” 2018 elections, he said, but insurance premiums will continue to go up until the country deals with the cost of health care.

Gridlock in Washington “is a positive” because business owners ”can worry about our business” rather than national politics, he said.

Activists, he noted, are frustrated they are having so little success in Washington and are moving to the state level. Farmers should not expect pullbacks in state regulations and may need to organize to work across state lines if they want to counter the activists, he said.

Asked about the Agriculture Department’s supply and demand reports, Roberts said the record shows that USDA reports are “wrong less” than private sector analyses.

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