The farm bill is the largest piece of national agriculture legislation in the United States, it touches just about every aspect of our farm, food, and fiber systems. Over the years, this bill has been the most important and consistent way CFA has engaged with policy on a national level. We rely on national allies, like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and National Family Farm Coalition, to guide dialogue and share resources on the status of the farm bill. Those coalitions also predict and gauge what the new bill is going to look like.
The farm bill is renewed every five years, and currently Congress is in the process of passing a new bill. During CFA’s 2017 Annual Meeting, board members and staff hosted a conversation on what CFA’s farm bill priorities should be. As an organization we encourage Congress to support the following:
- Continue same-level funding of nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) without additional work requirements.
- Gapless Safety Net- acknowledge that under current eligibility parameters, SNAP ineligible families exist that are still food insecure. With a gapless safety net, the maximum income allowed for SNAP eligibility would be increased and, include some measure of ensuring that all food insecure families have access to nutrition assistance.
Local & Regional Food Systems
- Continue same-level funding of the Farmers Market (FMPP) and Local Food (LFPP) Promotion Programs
- Increase funding for specialty crops, defined in U.S. law as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)”.
- Increase funding for infrastructure in local/regional food systems and value chains
- Include crop insurance for speciality crops and structures like high tunnels
- Maintain price support for organic and conventional products
Future of American Farmers
- Allow farmers to qualify for public service loan forgiveness
- Continue medicaid funding and healthcare opportunities especially for farmers without insurance from a second employer
- Account for differing scales of operation in regulations and procedures that affect the farm–acknowledge that small farms do not have many of the same risks (especially food borne disease risks) that large farms have.
- Increase protection of farmworker rights
- Legalize industrial hemp