ACTION ALERT: Senate Farm Bill Debate Underway

June 4, 2013

– June 4, 2013 –

WASHINGTON – The full Senate is debating their U.S. Farm Bill this week. Disagreements among Senators concerning a flood insurance amendment to the bill stalled debate Tuesday. Depending how negotiations go, Majority Leader Harry Reid may file cloture ending debate on all amendments which would mean a final “up or down” vote on the Farm Bill Thursday, June 6th before the Senate adjourns to allow the chamber to be used for a service remembering the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J. Our once-in-five-years opportunity to improve this nation’s food and farm policy is now for the Senate. Now is the time to contact your Senators’ offices urging them to support and pass a Farm Bill this week that alleviates hunger and malnutrition, supports vibrant farms and rural communities, and protects God’s creation.

Why the Farm Bill?

Our nation’s food and farm policies, as embodied in the farm bill, affect people from rural America to inner cities, from our local communities to less industrialized regions around the world. The farm bill is the single largest piece of federal policy impacting our food system. A good farm bill can strengthen nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), help our struggling rural communities, support new and socially disadvantaged farmers, enhance global food aid to the world’s most impoverished, and encourage farming and ranching practices that protect God’s creation.

Action this Week:

The Senate farm bill is not perfect, but it is the best farm bill we are likely to see from this Congress, especially when compared to the severe cuts to nutrition and conservation programs contained in the House farm bill. The Senate bill represents an important opportunity to provide stability for farmers, nutrition assistance to the economically vulnerable, food aid to those affected by disaster, development opportunities in rural communities, and land stewardship and conservation for the good of the land for the safety of drinking water.

In particular, tell the Senate:

We urge the Senate to support a Farm Bill that prioritize:

  • 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;
  • Farm Subsidies: It is important to continue a reasonable amount of support for farmers, but we must focus that support on the small and moderate-sized, independent producers who most need a safety net. Given current high commodity prices and federal budget constraints, agricultural subsidies and direct payments should be reduced overall, and targeted to small and moderate-sized farms, especially minority owned-farms. Government resources should assist those who truly need assistance and support those who comply with environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices;
  • 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.

For information from the EAD 2013 National Gathering’s legislative ask on the Farm Bill, as well as more recent resources, click here.

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