June 28, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Reana Kovalcik
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Senate Farm Bill Paves the Way for Farmer-Forward Farm Bill
National Sustainable Agriculture praises bill, but laments lack of action on crop insurance reform
Washington, DC, June 28, 2018 – Upon passage today of the Senate farm bill, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) issued the following statement:
“We congratulate Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for the timely passage of H.R. 2, the Senate farm bill. The farm bill is the primary legislative vehicle for critical investments in the programs that support family farms, rural communities, conservation, and healthy food access. Given the immense importance of this legislation, it is imperative that Congress completes a new farm bill before the expiration of the 2014 bill on September 30 of this year. The Senate’s swift movement on their bill takes us closer to our goal of an on-time bill.
We are pleased that the Senate farm bill, in stark contrast to the House bill, aligns with many of the priorities of family farmers and sustainable food advocates. This bill, for example, contains important provisions to increase investments in farm-to-fork initiatives and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, and also makes much-needed policy improvements to federal conservation programs. We also commend Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for including Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) “Actively Engaged in Farming” amendment in the Senate substitute package. This is a critical first step toward ensuring more equitable commodity subsidy programs.
We are deeply disappointed, however, that Senate leadership made an 11th hour decision to block a widely supported, bipartisan amendment led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for the wealthiest farming operations. This modest reduction would apply to individuals making an adjusted gross income of more than $700,000 per year, and at least double that for married couples. In other words, the wealthiest individuals would be required to pay about half of their own insurance premiums rather than having the bulk of the premium paid for by the taxpayer. This amendment has passed the Senate during previous farm bill cycles and would have passed again, if given a chance.
The focus now turns to conference, where farmers and food advocates will be closely watching to see how the House and Senate reconcile the significant differences between their draft bills. This is true for the Nutrition Title, wherein the House bill attempts to run roughshod over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and would cause millions of American families to lose access to food assistance. Conversely the Senate bill would preserve food access for these families. It is true for the Horticulture Title – wherein the House bill eliminates key farm-to-fork investments while the Senate builds those programs up. It is true for the Conservation Title – wherein the House bill weakens conservation programs and eliminates USDA’s largest working lands conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program. And finally, this is true for the Commodity Title, to which the House bill adds layers of new subsidy loopholes for mega-farms, while the Senate wisely tightens payment eligibility rules.
For family farmers, sustainable agriculture advocates, and anti-hunger champions, there can be no compromise on many of these critical issues – the Senate farm bill model will be the only workable choice. There are, however, many less contentious differences on which compromise will certainly be possible. NSAC looks forward to working with the conferees and other Members of Congress to finalize a strong, family farmer-forward farm bill before the September 30 deadline.”
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net
Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers, Commodity, Crop Insurance & Credit Programs, Conservation, Energy & Environment, Farm Bill, Local & Regional Food Systems, Press Releases, Research, Education & Extension, Rural Development