WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez voted in favor of the bipartisan farm bill, which was reported by a bicameral conference committee and passed by a vote of 87-13. The 2018 Farm Bill protects and maintains the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps 818,000 low income New Jerseyans buy groceries to feed their families, continues investments in programs that support crops essential to New Jersey such as blueberries and cranberries, improves and expands federal programs for urban and vertical farming, implements a permanent ban on the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption and reauthorizes the Cotton Trust Fund to help the state’s clothing manufacturers.

“I’m proud that this bipartisan bill will deliver big wins to New Jersey and that it protects hardworking families from cuts to vital programs,” said Sen. Menendez. “This legislation will help the Garden State live up to its name by supporting sustainable agriculture and farm jobs in South Jersey while encouraging innovation by urban farmers.”

Urban Farming

  • The bill improves urban and vertical agriculture by requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update its farm policy to include urban and indoor farmers to ensure they can access loans, conservation programs, and risk management tools.

Specialty Crop Protections

  • The bill provides mandatory funding for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program which will help New Jersey’s speciality crop producers, such as cranberry and blueberry farmers access export markets.
  • Level funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant is maintained in the bill. The SCBGP provides block grants to state departments of agriculture to use to enhance the competitiveness of their specialty crops. New Jersey uses the grant, in part, to finance the Jersey Fresh marketing program that advertises New Jersey produce.

Cotton Trust Fund

  • The bill reauthorizes the Cotton Trust Fund, a program Senator Menendez has been a long time champion of that protects New Jersey jobs by leveling the playing field for New Jersey clothing manufacturers through the elimination of incentives to offshore jobs.

In 2011, Sen. Menendez introduced legislation to restore the Cotton Trust Fund. The bill was included in the 2014 Farm Bill and the 2018 Farm Bill maintains Sen. Menendez’s improvements.