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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Farm Bill update: rotten tomato edition

Hundreds of millions of Americans depend on Congress to pass the Farm Bill – comprehensive farm and food legislation.

Those Americans were thrown a rotten tomato on Thursday when the House of Representatives failed to get enough votes to pass the Farm Bill.

Although the bill cut conservation drastically and failed to permit some important reforms, the lack of a Farm Bill continues the status quo, which means that many programs that have gone unfunded will continue to go unfunded: beginning farmer programs, value-added programs, organic programs, local food programs, renewable energy programs, and so many more.

The House disallowed a number of amendments to be voted on, including several important to community and regional food systems, sustainable agriculture, and food justice. And as with last year’s House failure to pass a Farm Bill, cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called Food Stamps) were a central point of contention, as were changes to dairy policy. Indeed, it was passage of an especially punitive SNAP amendment on Thursday that enraged enough members that they voted against final passage of the bill.

Silver lining?

A big THANK YOU to all of you who responded to our action alerts and called your Representative! Because of you, every Wisconsin Representative – all eight of them! – voted for the Fortenberry Amendment to cap commodity program payments.

Advocates for reforms of farm policy should take heart that many of the provisions for which they had fought, including payment limitations on commodity program payments, funding for local foods, and many other important policy changes for which they worked energetically, would have been included in the final bill. The record shows that the need for reforms has gained crucial support nationwide!

What happens now? It is unclear. There is some discussion of reconsideration in a few weeks. Some say that is impractical. As it becomes clear what next steps may occur, we will report on it here.