NSAC Writes to Conferees on Key Priorities for 2013 Farm Bill
October 22nd, 2013
As the House and Senate head to conference on the farm bill, NSAC sent out a letter to conferees highlighting our key priorities for the conference committee. The letter calls on conferees to adopt key reforms to the farm safety net, preserve critical conservation programs, and provide continued support to a host of innovative programs that invest in sustainable agriculture, many of which were left stranded during last year’s extension of the 2008 Farm Bill.
The first meeting of the House-Senate conference committee on the farm bill is expected to take place a week from now.
The House and Senate Farm Bills contain the ingredients for modest but meaningful reform to the farm safety net program. NSAC’s letter urges conferees to push forward with these needed reforms, including measures to limit total annual payments under commodity programs and to target them to working farmers, reduce crop insurance subsidies for millionaires, and reform crop insurance subsidies to protect vulnerable grassland and wetland and relink federal aid to soil and wetland conservation.
NSAC’s letter also urges conferees to refrain from disproportionately cutting critical conservation programs, particularly the Conservation Stewardship Program which the House bill unfairly targets for the bulk of the cuts to working lands conservation. CSP is unique among conservation programs in its support for advanced conservation management activities and practices and its emphasis on continual improvement. The letter also calls for strong funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and the Rural Energy for America Program, as well as needed reforms to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s treatment of organic producers.
The House and Senate Farm Bills also reauthorize vital programs that were left stranded in the last extension. These programs include investments in the next generation of farmers such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, support for local and regional food systems as a way to spur rural development such as the Value-Added Producer Grants, and critical investments in research to support the future of organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture such as the Organic Research and Extension Initiative. NSAC’s letter urges conferees to fully support these critical programs.
Finally, on two overarching farm bill issues, the NSAC letter opposes the House bill’s provision to split the nutrition title out of future farm bills and suggests that all farm-related programs in the farm bill be required to be renewed at the end of each multiyear farm bill cycle.