Continue the Fight For Equity as the Farm Bill Goes to Conference. PART TWO.
The current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30. Our most critical task now is working together to move a Better Farm Bill to final passage. Here we remind you of what we have accomplished together in this Farm Bill Season, what we need to protect, and what we still need to fight for.
Our leaders, members and allies together identified a core subset of amendments, marker bills and provisions we’ve fought for in this bill. We have organized and collaborated locally, regionally, and nationally to advocate against the deep cuts to SNAP, in local and regional food programs, and in conservation funding that permeated the May and June versions of the House Bill which passed narrowly, 213-211. On the Senate side, with our members we pushed our equity package, working to ensure that the Senate’s bipartisan Farm Bill, passed on June 28 on a vote of 86-11, included support for SNAP, conservation and local food programs, as well as the specific wins we are now working to keep in the final bill. (See below.)
As the Farm Bill Conference convenes, the Senate’s bipartisan bill provides a stronger basis to move forward. At the outset it is important to acknowledge–even as Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (KA) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (MI) admit–that this bill is the best of what could be passed at this point stiff given budget constraints and a contentious political climate.
That said, the Senate bill has enough valuable features to make moving forward on a final bill preferable to having no bill or even a continuing resolution.
When you call on your members of Congress, ask them to accept the specific language in the Senate version that:
• Protects SNAP funding in the Nutrition Title in the Senate Bill, and doesn’t include the very stiff and bureaucratic workfare requirements that will create hunger and deepen poverty for vulnerable Americans, including children and families, and burden States with implementation and the costs of constructing an underfunded bureaucratic infrastructure.
• Provides Fair Access for Farmers and Ranchers “heirs property” language (in Senate Sections 12623, 12624 and 12625) that will ensure that more farmers — especially African-American farmers and farmers of color — can access USDA programs that enable them to protect the soil and water; continue to operate viable farms that feed their communities; and pass farming vocation and farmland on to future generations.
• Senate Section 12301, Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO_ which strengthens the historicOutreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program and also links it to and provides permanent funding (of $50 million annually) and permanent authority shared equally with the closely relatedBeginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program.
• That removes industrial hemp from the controlled substances list will allow both tribes and states to establish regulatory structures within their boundaries that allow farmers and ranchers to produce a high value cash crop.
• That provides small steps forward in Credit and Dairy Policy, including equitable relief in credit to protect producers against errors made by the lender.
• Authorizes the new LAMP program which merges authorities and provides baseline funding for local food, rural value added and food safety programs.
ALSO LET’S NOT FORGET
There are some ugly aspects of current versions that we refuse to accept, please remind your Congress member.
• Deep SNAP cuts and weakening of the program as written in the House Bill are unacceptable.
YOUR ENGAGEMENT IS CRUCIAL
Let’s secure the Farm Bill our farmers deserve. What can you do to support our final push?
• Sign up for our action alerts, updates and newsletters. If you have more organizational staff and members that want to participate, please add their names and emails.
• Join or renew your membership. It is time to renew your Rural Coalition Organizational Membership — by joining or renewing on time, your support will provide critically needed resources to allow us to focus on this important Policy Push!
• Make an additional donation to support the final fight for a Farm Bill that addresses the injustice of hunger in the wealthiest nation on the planet; advances equity for small and new entry family farmers; uplifts and grows just food systems, and protects our mother earth.
• Save the Date: Let’s fight, win, and then celebrate! This is RC’s 40th year of fighting for justice and equity in food and farm policy. Save the date and please join us December 13-14 in DC and stay for dinner the evening of December 14.
• Follow the latest Rural Coalition blog posts!
• Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
We’ve done so much already: Let’s continue our momentum!