Senate takes up the Farm Bill; vote expected early June
Urge the Senate to support a Farm Bill that provides food to the hungry,
promotes conservation stewardship, supports family farms and
helps rural America thrive.
ACTION: The full Senate has started debate on the Farm Bill recently passed out of committee. Following the amendment process on the floor of the Senate, a final vote could happen during the first week of June.
Make your voice heard! Click on the link above and urge your Senators to support a fair Farm Bill that will help feed hungry people here at home and abroad, support international development, promote growth in U.S. rural communities and encourage stewardship of the land. Tell your Senators to oppose cuts to these critical programs that help people and communities in need.
Catholic Rural Life, in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), supports important provisions in the 2013 Farm Bill that will uphold the life and dignity of the human person and promote stewardship of creation.
We urge the Senate to support a Farm Bill and appropriate amendments that prioritize:
- Conservation and Stewardship: Support full funding for conservation initiatives that promote stewardship of the land and environmentally sound agriculture practices. These programs provide technical assistance and financial incentives for farmers and ranchers to adopt practices aimed at fostering healthy, productive and non-eroding soils, clean air and water, energy savings and wildlife habitat.
- Rural Development: Rural communities and small towns are the backbone of the social and economic life of America. Effective policies and programs are needed to encourage rural development and promote the culture and well-being of these communities.
- Targeted Farm Subsidies: Given current high commodity prices and federal budget constraints, agricultural subsidies should be targeted to small and moderate-sized farms. Government resources should assist those who truly need assistance and support those who comply with environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices.
- Domestic Hunger and Nutrition: With continued high unemployment and a struggling economy, Congress should support access to adequate and nutritious food for those in need and oppose attempts to weaken or restructure these programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- International Food Security and Development: The Food for Peace program saves people’s lives in times of dire emergencies and combats chronic hunger in poor communities around the world. Support reforms to Food for Peace that give aid workers on the ground more flexibility to employ interventions best suited to local conditions and replace monetization. The Administration’s budget proposed major changes to food aid that would provide similar flexibility. Urge Congress to adopt such flexibilities in authorizing legislation that also protects funding for emergency assistance and food security development projects.
CURRENT SITUATION: The Senate began debate on the Farm Bill on Monday, May 20. Senators are currently offerring amendments and voting on these. A final vote on the bill is expected after the Memorial Day recess (May 27-31). That means a vote sometime during the first week of June.
The Senate bill coming out of the Agriculture committee proposed reducing agriculture funding over 10 years by $23 billion. This includes over $4 billion in proposed cuts to the SNAP (food stamps) program and over $5 billion in cuts to conservation programs. At a time of continued unemployment and high levels of poverty, the Senate should oppose cuts to effective anti-hunger programs that help people live in dignity and strengthen and support programs that help conserve our land and resources for future generations. We support amendments to these ends.
Furthermore, Catholic Rural Life urges reasonable limits in crop subsidies, including reforms to crop insurance subsidies so that these are targeted to small and medium-sized farmers and ranchers who truly need assistance. Currently, too much assistance is disproportionately given to larger growers and agribusinesses. If budget cuts are to take place in the Farm Bill, then these should come out of Commodity programs and Crop Insurance subsidies that otherwise go to wealthy farm operations.
Your voice is needed now to ensure that the Senate supports programs that feed hungry people, preserves creation and supports small family farmers and rural America.
For additional Farm Bill information from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, see the USCCB Farm Bill page.
Thank you for your continued dedication and advocacy.