Tell the Senate: We Need a Farm Bill that Works!

Every five years, Congress passes a Farm Bill setting the policies for farmers and the food system. The House version of the bill just passed, and it got almost everything wrong. Now the Senate is taking a swing — and its version could get a vote soon.

The House bill fails to provide a reasonable safety net for farmers or low-income families, takes aim at organic standards, weakens successful conservation programs and allows factory farms to use taxpayer money to cover their costs. That’s not right.

Tell your senators: We need a Farm Bill that works for people, not corporations.

Demand a Better Farm Bill
Tell your senators: We need a Farm Bill that works for people, not corporations.

Message Your Senator

Background

The Farm Bill establishes policies and government support for U.S. agriculture, nutrition assistance, rural economic development programs, agricultural research and much more. The bill generally lasts for about five years.

In May 2018, the House Agriculture Committee passed a version of the Farm Bill that got almost everything wrong. The House bill is so aggressive in how it cuts nutrition assistance and other programs that no Democrats voted for it in committee or on the House floor, and the bill failed when a group of Republicans voted against it as part of a larger debate about immigration policy.

Situation

On September 30th 2018, the 2014 Farm Bill expired because Congress did not pass a new version of the bill or an extension of the current one. So what now?

For many Farm Bill programs, including crop insurance, commodity payments and SNAP, not much changes because they are authorized and funded to run beyond the Farm Bill cycle. Some of them will run without interruption until the end of the calendar year and some can continue indefinitely.

But for other programs, many of which sustainable agriculture advocates describe as “tiny but mighty,” the expiration of the Farm Bill leaves them high and dry. These programs include beginning farmer training programs, research and transition assistance for organic agriculture and local food promotion programs. Some conservation programs may not allow farmers to enroll due to the Farm Bill lapse as well.

How long we might go without a Farm Bill isn’t clear. The 2014 Farm Bill was actually supposed to be done in 2012, which gives some indication of the difficulty of getting these bills passed in an increasingly partisan Congress. There is some hope in the agriculture community that Congress will pass an extension of the current bill during the lame duck session after the election. Whether or not an extension would put these tiny but mighty programs back on track remains to be seen.

What You Can Do

We need to build pressure on Congress to maintain the SNAP food safety net, stop subsidizing factory farms, and reform incentives to benefit small farmers. Please send a message to your Senator urging them to create a Farm Bill that works for people, not corporations.

Tell the Senate We Need a Farm Bill That Works!