Farm Bill ExtendedFri 11 Jan 2013
Story by Food Revolution Team
Congress votes to extend Farm Bill until September 2013
Every 5 years Congress negotiates the Farm Bill-a huge piece of legislation that impacts all dimensions of farming, food and nutrition for kids and adults in America. It dictates how we grow food, support farmers, sell food, and take care of hungry people with food assistance programs.
The 2012 Farm Bill had been widely debated this year in Congress. While it was approved by the Senate, the House of Representatives never brought the bill to the floor for a vote. On September the 30th 2012, the 2008 Farm Bill, the most important law determining what America grows and eats, expired without Congress passing a new one.
Instead, a Farm Bill extension was included in the ‘fiscal cliff’ tax bill which was passed on New Year’s Day, meaning that the current Farm Bill has been extended until September of this year, giving Congress time to draft another Farm Bill.
Although this does give time to improve the current bill, the farm bill extension fails to include funding for critical programs that support local, organic and healthy food even though these programs had been agreed to in both the House and Senate versions of the 2012 Farm Bill. The extension also cut a vital nutrition education program.
Severe cuts were made to the SNAP nutrition education program in order to pay for an extension of dairy programs. This program is vital for helping those who receive food assistance make healthier choices. More than 25% of funding to the SNAP education program was cut – from $394 million to $285 million, which will be very disruptive, reducing the program’s reach and effectiveness. The USDA must now work out how to implement this cut, and programs will likely see big changes later this year.
While the extension provides full funding for subsidies for corn, soy and other junk food inputs that had been eliminated in the 2012 House and Senate versions, it fails to extend funding for organic agriculture, clean water, beginning farmer initiatives, and farmers markets, undermining many of the policy achievements of real food movement over the years. It does however continue funding for programs such as the school fruit and vegetable snack program. Yet it still does not represent the Farm Bill that Americans want, or need.
Much needs to change in the Farm Bill to ensure that it supports family farmers and delivers healthier, more sustainable food to our kids and families. This year we’ll continue to press Congress to make sure that healthy food and nutrition programs are prioritized and that the new Farm Bill supports the people that need it most. Stay Tuned.
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