This is the first blog post of many in our series on how we can build a better Farm Bill.
Strangely, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass its shoe-in majority version of the 2018 Farm Bill. Why? Because, surprisingly, something worse is possible.
At the same time the highly flawed HR 2, Agriculture and Food Act of 2018, was approaching the House Floor, a group of moderate Republicans who want immigration reform joined with most Democrats on a bipartisan bill that gives Dreamers a chance. As this group got within a few signatures of the 218 needed for the House to vote (and pass) the Dreamer Bill, 30 conservative members of the Freedom Caucus (who wanted to pass anti-immigrant legislation instead) rebelled by voting against the Farm Bill. So the House Farm Bill failed on May 18 with a vote of 198-213.
In a last minute twist of Republican infighting, leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are contemplating keeping the defeated “Harm Bill” in play by reintroducing it as an Agriculture, Nutrition and Immigration Bill.
Who’s for what?
- In order to regain the Freedom Caucus votes needed to pass the HR 2, the new bill would combine the most partisan and draconian Farm Bill since 1965 with a Guestworker Bill by Rep. Bob Goodlatte that echoes the repressive Bracero program, circa 1942.
- Big Agriculture supports the bad HR 2, and urgently needs workers, so would support the combined plan…
- Except that the Goodlatte Bill includes a requirement that ag employers use an electronic verification system.
- Big Ag opposes e-verify and will only support the combined bill if that requirement is taken out.
- Meanwhile, the Freedom Caucus wants to keep E-verify.
So the standoff to get the 218 votes needed to pass any of the above continues.
(Complicated? Yes, they are.)
Meanwhile, what can we do?
Keep Fighting to Build a Better Farm Bill – Actions for Equity
Congress is on break until June 5 so this week is a good time to urge your Representative to vote against HR 2, the Goodlatte Guestworker bill, and any combination of the two.
Soon after Congress returns, we expect the Senate Agriculture Committee to officially begin writing their version of the Farm Bill. So this is also a good week to tell your Senators what you want to see in the Senate Farm Bill.
Rural Coalition has been working with our allies provide policy proposals to help the Senate Ag Committee complete a better bill that avoids the worst things in the House bill, and advances in a bipartisan package some of the best available amendments and policy proposals.
Help Senators write equity into their Farm Bill.
- Check out our Rural Coalition Equity Letter to the Senate Ag Committee, already endorsed by more than 100 organizations which outlines our positions on full funding for SNAP, conservation and rural development, and which extends and improves Outreach for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers Program, and would allow access to USDA farm and conservation programs for African American and other families farming on heirs property. (Add your organization here!)
Stay Tuned and Join us for our Summer of Equity Actions.
And Keep Reading with Us. . .
- See our second blog post for a quick run down of what was in the House “Harm Bill” that could re-emerge when the House and Senate go to conference to discuss their joint bill.
- Also, coming soon to our blog: How can equity provisions preserve farmland, promote sustainable agriculture practices, and protect national food security?