February 14th, 2014
This post wraps up our series on what is in the new 2014 Farm Bill for sustainable food and farming systems. We started the series with an overview of what was in the bill for sustainable agriculture, and then dove into a series of posts with the nitty-gritty details of the new bill:
- The Bill by the Numbers
- Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers
- Conservation Triple-Header: Working Lands, Crop Insurance Linkages, and Easements, CRP, and Energy
- Local and Regional Food Systems, Healthy Food Access, and Rural Development
- Sustainable and Organic Research
- Subsidy Reform and Fair Competition
While the bill is a mixed bag for sustainable agriculture, the strong progress made on a variety of fronts in the bill is the result of congressional champions and the tireless efforts of farmers and grassroots advocates who made their voices heard through countless calls to Congress, meetings and farm tours with legislators, and outreach to their communities on how to weigh in on our nation’s food and farm policy. To all of you who made a call, shared a tweet, educated your representatives on your farm or food business, and took the time to reach out to members of your community, a big thank you!
Let’s Recap How We Got Here
It has been a long and unpredictable path to this new bill.
The House Agriculture Committee kicked off field hearings in 2010. In 2011, the leaders of the Agriculture Committees drafted a farm bill deal for the Super Committee process that failed (details of that process here and here). Agriculture Committee leaders pushed forth in 2012 to draft a bill, with the Senate passing a bill (recaps of committee action here and floor action here) and the House only getting a bill out of committee. But the bill never made it to the House floor in 2012, and so the farm bill expired and, along with it, funding for many innovative programs.
Right at the start of 2013, Congress passed an awful farm bill extension as part of the bigger “fiscal cliff” deal. Agriculture Committee leaders then started the process of reauthorizing a new bill again, and the Senate passed the bill again, as did the House Agriculture Committee. When the bill came to the House floor, it failed, and after some fits and starts, was divided into two bills, and thenrejoined. In the meantime, the farm bill extension expired and innovative programs continued to be stranded without funding.
A big thank you to everyone who stayed with us through the incredible twists and turns of the multi-year process and took action to support sustainable food and farming systems!
Letter from Edwin Yowell NY/NJ Regional Governor at Slow Food to NJ Slow Food Chapters:
The Food and Farm Bill is the single greatest influence on what we eat. It determines how billions are spent shaping our food system, from producer to eater. And, while we spend those billions, we know that diet-related diseases, obesity and diabetes, are at an all‐time high, and, in a seeming paradox, hunger persists in our nation. And, we know that our food system is dominated by a handful of large corporations that put our family farmers and ranchers, our health and well-being, and our environment at risk.
Attached is an important letter from Josh and all of our Regional Governors to the leaders of the House and Senate Ag Committees about the new Food and Farm Bill. In the letter, Josh, on behalf of our 225,000 supporters, nation-wide, states, “We believe that everyone, every day, should be able to eat food that is good for them, good for producers, and good for the planet. The next Food and Farm Bill has the potential to make that vision a reality, and, as leaders of the Senate and House agriculture committees, you have the opportunity to help move national farm and food policies in the right direction.” Josh continues, ”We urge you to consider…(our) principles and supporting actions that, when enacted, will: ‘promote a health-focused food system, help end hunger, and provide all with access to healthy food; create a level plowing field for family farmers and ranchers and help create vibrant, regional farm and food economies; and promote good environmental stewardship, preserving our agricultural land and water resources for future generations.’“ I am proud that Josh and all the Governors signed this letter. In the coming weeks, the House and Senate will be working on the next Food and Farm Bill. I believe that our voices can help make our food system better, cleaner, and fairer. I will keep you all posted as events unfold, letting you know when your chapter’s members and supporters might weigh in.