February 14, 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:
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 then rejoined. 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!
With the ink drying on the new bill, focus now turns to implementing the programs and policies in the bill. This year and next, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be writing the guidance and rules that provide details on programs. USDA will be putting out funding announcements and notices, seeking comment on the structure of new programs, and doing outreach to farmers, communities, and consumers on programs and resources that are available.
Engaging in the implementation process of the new bill is critical for the programs and policies to be successful on-the-ground. In the coming months, we will be providing resources and information about programs in the new bill as well as opportunities to engage in how USDA is rolling out programs and policies. Stay tuned, sign up to stay informed, and get ready to make sure that all of the good things in the farm bill turn into real change across the country!