This week the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to consider and vote on H.R. 2, Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, which is their version of the new Farm Bill. As noted in the last blog regarding the bill, there needs to be a call for changes and amendments.
We join with the U.S. Bishops in calling for greater funding of nutrition programs, namely the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The House bill makes major cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program that will harm families, removing over two million people from the program.
As for agricultural programs and support for family farms, we are concerned by the House Agriculture Committee’s new policies regarding the following:
Conservation – The House bill removes support for resource stewardship on 70 million acres of working farm and ranchland by completely eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program.
Local Food – The House bill cuts all funding for several programs that invest in helping farmers connect to local and regional buyers and in improving healthy food access.
Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers – The House bill fails to invest more in beginning farmers, military veteran farmers and farmers of color. With the average age of farmers continuing to rise, more needs to be done to ensure the success of these key farmer communities.
Crop Insurance and Commodities – The House bill opens major new loopholes allowing for unlimited subsidies that will continue to distort land prices and create an unfair playing field for family farmers.
Rural Development – The House bill cuts funding for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, which helps rural Americans access capital and business training services.
There’s still time to get a better farm bill done this year. To join your voice to these issues, call the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121. Ask for your Representative and, once they connect you, leave a message like this one:
“Hello, my name is [____] and I am a constituent. The H.R. 2 – the 2018 Farm Bill has deficiencies (cuts in funding) that need to be addressed. The funding that is threatening to be cut helps farmers, communities, resource conservation, local food, beginning farmers and rural development. Thank you.”
Your voice will send a message to the House of Representatives to consider these important issues. The voices of our members together across the country creates an even greater call for a bill that better serves our farmers and rural communities.