The U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill last week by a vote of 86-11. The legislation differs from the Farm Bill that was passed by the House the week before, and received a much larger amount of bi-partisan support. Included in the bill was an amendment offered by Senator Tina Smith (D – MN) and several others that would reiterate congressional intent that school food purchases using tax payer dollars should adhere to the Buy American provisions. In a statement, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner said, “the last several years has seen a marked increase in the amount of foreign-produced food served in schools when comparable American-grown products are readily available and competitively priced, something that contrary to the intent of the Buy American provisions in the school lunch and school breakfast programs. This amendment gives Congress the chance to once again emphasize that these important provisions were included in the programs for a reason and should not be ignored.” In a press release issued by Smith’s office, the bill was supported by a host of organizations, including Cooperative Network members AgCountry Farm Credit Services, MiEnergy Cooperative, Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative, and Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative. Included in the press release were quotes of support, including one from Cooperative Network President & CEO Dan Smith that went on to say, “Cooperative Network congratulates the U.S. Senate on passage of the Farm Bill. As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, we appreciate Sen. Smith’s leadership in helping to shepherd this legislation through the process. Minnesota’s agriculture, dairy, farm supply, and sugar beet processing cooperatives play an extremely important role in state’s economy. The Farm Bill contains measures that will continue to bolster the nation’s agricultural sector, as well as assist our co-ops and their member-owners throughout the state.” Now that both the Senate and House have passed their respective versions of the bill, a conference committee comprised of members from both bodies will begin to debate the merits of each respective bill.