NFU: A Farm Bill is Just Around the Corner – Take Action Today!
After much anticipation and heated deliberations, the House Agriculture Committee is expected to release its draft of the 2018 Farm Bill sometime this week.
A few details have emerged about the draft. According to The Progressive Farmer, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will likely be slightly amended, with an expected increase of the acreage cap from 24 million to 29 million acres, and an expected decrease of rental rates to 80 percent of the average rental value in a county. Additionally, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more familiarly known as food stamps, may see budget cuts and more stringent work requirements. This has been an ongoing partisan sticking point in this year’s efforts. President Trump has voiced support for such changes as recently as Tuesday, when he signed an executive order calling for stricter work requirements for a number of welfare programs, including SNAP. (As we have noted previously, SNAP already includes employment mandates, allowing able-bodied adults without dependents to only receive benefits for 3 months in 3 years if they do not meet work requirements. As a result, 79 percent of participating adults are working, looking for work, or cannot work due to a disability, while most others are full-time caretakers for children or relatives with disabilities.)
In addition to some specific provisions, there are also more sweeping expectations for the Farm Bill – notably, that it won’t be given any additional funding above its current baseline. This is a particularly disappointing fact considering where the farm economy is now in relation to where it was in 2014, when the most recent farm bill was signed into law. In 2013, net farm income reached a record high of $123.8 billion. This year, it is expected to be just $59.5 billion – its lowest value since 2006. By excluding any additional funding, Congressional leadership has hamstrung the Ag Committees’ abilities to deal with the very real economic difficulties family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring.
Farmers Union is urging Congress to pass a Farm Bill by the September 30 cutoff, and to make sure it actually works for the entire food system, from farmer to consumer. In particular, the organization is asking that the legislation strengthen the farm safety net by providing more funding for commodity programs and maintaining crop insurance, improve farm sustainability through strong conservation programs, and ensure fair and diverse markets by supporting programs that encourage the growth of local and organic markets.
In order to raise awareness for the importance of the Farm Bill and generate support for its passage, Farmers Union also launched a widespread campaign, including a Change.Org petition and a new website, which houses an action center to help individuals advocate for a strong Farm Bill, as well as video featuring several Farmers Union members of various operation types and sizes explaining why the Farm Bill is important to them and their communities.
If you haven’t already, please take action to let Congress know we need a good Farm Bill this year, and then share it with your friends and family!
Learn more and take action at 2018FarmBill.Org.