Farm Bill Fails To Be Renewed or Extended

Farm Bill Fails To Be Renewed Or Extended

Wed 26 Sep 2012

Story by The Food Revolution Team

In just four days the current Farm Bill, signed into law in 2008, will expire without Congress passing a new bill.

The full Senate passed its version of a new 2012 Farm Bill in June and the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the bill in mid-July. The next steps would have been for the full House to vote on the bill (as the Senate did) and then for the House and Senate to hold a conference committee to merge their versions of the bill and pass a new one, as happens every five years.
However, although the House Agriculture Committee passed its version, the Republican leadership decided against taking it to the floor for a vote before adjourning for elections.
What this now means is that the 2008 Farm Bill will expire at the end of this week, without a 2012 version passed or the 2008 bill extended.

So what’s next?

There will be no vote in the House on a new five-year farm bill until after the November elections when it could get picked back up in the Lame Duck session and a new bill may be passed.

If the 2008 bill is extended or a new bill is not passed, then a number of programs within the bill will be lost as funding for them no longer exists – these include programs for beginning farmers, conservation and organic production. The way to preserve these programs is to pass a new bill, or at a minimum make sure these programs are funded in an extension by using direct subsidy payments to cover their costs.

Although we need a new Farm Bill, the proposed bills for the 2012 Farm Bill are far from perfect and these agricultural policies are not healthy and sustainable in the long run. The Senate bill cut an overall of $23 billion including $4 billion from nutrition and food programs, while the House bill proposed $35 billion in cuts including $16.5 billion from nutrition programs.

If passed, the 2012 bill would hurt programs which would revitalize local food economies, and decimate programs that promote health and food security, with an estimated 2-3 million people likely to lose their food stamp benefits. At the same time much of the money remaining in the bill would go to the largest commodity crop growers, insurance companies, and agribusinesses with almost eight times more money being spent on corn, soy, cotton rice and wheat groups than fruits, vegetables and nuts.

The proposed bills would do very little to change the fact that fewer than 5% of adults currently meet the USDA’s daily nutrition guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption, and thus does little to change to the obesity and diet related epidemics facing the nation, not to mention the costs that they create.

Ideally the bill does get picked up again after the elections and with it the opportunity for amendments to be introduced to try and change the how the bill is looking, such as ‘Gillibrand’s anti-hunger and healthy food’ amendment that we supported in the Senate. For now, we will just have to wait and see what happens after the elections, and how they may also impact what happens to the Farm Bill.

Find out more about the Farm Bill in Edible Education 103: The Farm Bill, by Chellie Pingree, Dan Imhoff, and Ken Cook.

The Food Revolution Team


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