Organizations call on Congress to fix the harmful Farm Bill Extension
Now that the sequester cuts are in place, at least for the time being, attention now focuses on the federal budget for this fiscal year and next.
For Farm Bill programs, scores of local and national organizations are calling on Congress to end direct farm subsidy payments. These payments were eliminated in last year’s draft farm bills as proposed by both the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee, but the full House never voted on a final bill. The best they could do was allow a simple extension of the old Farm Bill as part of the fiscal cliff deal passed on the very last day of last year.
See the Rural Coalition letter to Senate
By eliminating direct farm payments now, Congress would be able to use a portion of the savings to restore funding for critical farm bill programs. These include rural development, renewable energy, and support for beginning and disadvantaged farmers.
These small but vital programs help farmers expand their businesses and meet the growing demand for local, healthy and non-industrialized food. They also spur job creation, build healthy rural communities and support a new generation of farmers to replace the aging farmer population.
The best way to move this forward is to call on Congress and urge members to support the American Family Economic Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulsi (D-MD). (As of Feb. 28, the status of this bill is “provisionally dead” after failing a cloture vote, or the threat of filibuster by a minority of senators.)
This proposal is also attempting to restore funding to the Conservation Stewardship Program for the 2013 farmer sign-up, funding that was inadvertently left out of the continuing resolution that is currently funding government programs.
It would also provide immediate funding for livestock and other farm disaster assistance, another item left out of the fiscal cliff farm bill extension deal.
A bill like this would also remove all Farm Bill spending from the automatic budget cuts referred to as sequestration. Sequestration is haphazardly reducing farm commodity and conservation program support by close to $7 billion.
NCRLC asks our network members to call on House, Senate, and White House leaders and urge them to work immediately towards a comprehensive deal that corrects the sequester, finishes real appropriation bills for this fiscal year, and fixes the farm bill extension so that it actually extends the full farm bill while beginning the long overdue job of reforming subsidies.