WASHINGTON, D.C. - Even as it looked very likely that the Senate would give its stamp of approval to the Farm Bill early this week, Rep. Rob Bishop could be characterized as lukewarm on the bill.
“There are still parts of it of which I am not happy,” he said. “It seems every time it came back for consideration it became a little bit worse.”
He is glad that it provides funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). Utah counties receive more from that source than any state except California. That includes Davis County, which received just over $64,000 last year.
It receives one of the lowest figures because it is the smallest county in terms of land area in Utah.
Even so, Davis County Commissioners threw their support strongly behind continuation of the program, recently passing a resolution emphasizing that.
“The fact PILT was included became the tipping point” in Bishop’s support, he said, adding, “This became the only vehicle that was viable.”
He emphasized that a more stable funding source must be found for PILT, rather than shifting it around to get sufficient funding.
“I would like to work for a long term solution,” Bishop emphasized. “Back in 2008, this program was taken out of the appropriations process.”
It doesn’t work well the way it’s currently handled, he said.
“This year the only savings we could find was in the Farm Bill. This is a bad system. I want to put it back in appropriations.
“We need to find a permanent source of funding, at least allow it be considered in overall appropriations so we don’t have to play games,” Bishop said.
He may propose PILT-related legislation, but probably not during this session, Bishop said.
“I thought we could’ve done much better for them and by them,” Bishop said referring to help for farmers and ranchers through the Farm Bill.
Among aspects in the Farm Bill, it repeals direct payments and strengthens risk management tools; strengthens the crop insurance program; funds specialty crop industry priorities; reauthorizes the U.S. sugar policy at zero cost to the taxpayer; strengthens and consolidates conservation programs to save $6 billion over the next decade.