House Farm Bill Proposal Leaves Much to Be Desired

House Farm Bill Proposal Leaves Much to Be Desired

House Farm Bill Proposal Leaves Much to Be DesiredAfter much anticipation and heated deliberations, the House Agriculture Committee released its draft of the 2018 Farm Bill last Thursday. On Wednesday of this week, the committee marked up the draft in an hours-long process, ultimately advancing the bill to the full House of Representatives on a party-line vote, 26 to 20.
The bill is wholly inadequate for providing family farmers with the resources they need to endure the worst decline in the farm economy in decades, according to NFU First and foremost, this version of the Farm Bill would receive an estimated 5 percent less funding than the 2014 Farm Bill, despite NFU’s repeated calls for increased funding. This is a particularly disappointing fact considering where the farm economy is now in relation to where it was in 2014. In 2013, net farm income reached a record of $123.8 billion. This year, it is expected to be just $59.5 billion – its lowest value since 2006. By disallowing additional funding to be devoted to the Farm Bill this year, Congressional leadership has hamstrung the Ag Committees’ abilities to deal with the very real economic difficulties family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring.
The Title I commodity programs, with the exception of improvements for dairy and cotton producers, are largely the same as they were in 2014 Farm Bill. Price Loss Coverage (PLC) would maintain its reference prices, the threshold below which payments are triggered, for all commodities. As a result, struggling farmers will likely not receive an adequate amount of assistance to deal with such low commodity prices.
Additionally, the House bill would entirely eliminate some provisions, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, a working lands program that provides incentives for improving and maintaining conservation practices. The bill would also eliminate mandatory funding for Value-Added Producer Grants, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, all of which facilitate the development of fair and diverse markets for family farmers.
The bill contains some bad news for hungry Americans, too. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which has consistently been a point of contention in the negotiation process, may see budget cuts and more stringent work requirements for participants, even though there are already such requirements in place. As written in the House draft, individuals would be required to either acquire gainful employment or attend 20 hours of training weekly. This would cut SNAP participation by an estimated 1 million people over the next 10 years.
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, as well as provide an adequate safety net for consumers by maintaining existing eligibility standards for SNAP participants and providing incentives for farmer-to-consumers sales. National Farmers Union is also asking that the 2018 Farm Bill improve farm sustainability through strong conservation programs, and ensure fair and diverse markets by supporting programs that encourage competition and the growth of local and organic markets. A full list of recommendations can be found here.
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 a 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 in the NFU release and take action at 2018FarmBill.Org.



House Farm Bill Proposal Leaves Much to Be Desired

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