In case you missed the Zoom webinar, you can view the 34-minute video here:
Presenters: Juli Obudzinski, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (sign up for NSAC updates); Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition; Rodrigo Rodriguez, Southwest Organizing Project; Nora Leccese, PC(USA) Office of Public Witness
Farm Bill Update: What’s Up
The US government has until September 30, 2018 to pass a new Farm Bill. The House brought their Farm Bill to the floor and it was rejected on May 18 by every Democrat, and some moderate and Freedom Caucus Republicans, the latter wanting action on a restrictive immigration bill first.
Below, I mention five areas of concern about the House bill, which they are still planning to put up for another vote, as of today. The Senate will reportedly unveil its Farm Bill in June.
You may know the routine of bill passage. Once a bill makes it out of committee, each full chamber rejects or passes. When you have two bills, as in the case of the Farm Bill, the passed versions go to a joint committee where they are reconciled into a single bill. That bill goes back to the full House, then the Senate, and if passed in both, to the President for approval or veto.
Concerns about the House’s version:
- SNAP – benefits would be cut by about $17 billion over ten years, primarily by toughening the work requirement rules, which would push an estimated 1.6 million beneficiaries off of SNAP.
- Conservation – the House bill would erase support for resource stewardship on 70 million acres (that’s an area the size of Nevada) of working farm and ranchland by completely eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program.
- Local food – the House bill abandons local farmers by cutting all funding for several programs that invest in helping farmers connect to local and regional buyers and in improving healthy food access.
- Beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers – the House bill misses the mark by failing to invest more in beginning farmers, military veteran farmers, and farmers of color. With the average age of farmers continuing to rise, the status quo is not enough to ensure the success of these key farmer communities.
- Crop insurance and commodities – because prices are low compared to production costs and because of the many risks of farming, not least of which is extreme weather due to climate change, crop insurance is critical for farmers. But the House bill opens major new loopholes allowing for unlimited subsidies that will continue to distort land prices and create an unfair playing field for farmers.
For your guide to the Farm Bill — complete with questions you can ask your local, state or federal candidates — download the PC(USA)’s Eater’s Guide to the Farm Bill