The Farm Bill is reauthorized every five years and 2018 is one of those years. It is not just important for farmers, it’s important for every single one of us who rely on a safe, abundant, and sustainable food system. It is past time for a new farm bill. Farmers and communities alike are counting on Congress to do its job and pass a new bill – a good one that invests in a better farm and food future. Where are we now? The week of December 12th, Congress released the bill text, the Senate voted in favor 87-13 and the House voted in favor 369-47. The next step is for President Trump to sign the bill into law.
MCE’s Farm Bill Priorities
1) Support Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) and fund it at $60 million to ensure the future of local and regional food economies (LAMP at $60 million),
2) Maintain funding for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), with each program functioning independently (Do not cut funding for, or merge together, CSP and EQIP),
3) Adopt the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program (FOTO), which consolidates and streamlines the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program and provide $50 million in annual permanent mandatory funding,
4) Protect SNAP from any funding cuts or changes to work requirements to ensure our most food insecure families can feed themselves (Keep SNAP as is),
5) Adopt the House of Representatives funding levels for Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) and the Senate policy changes for FINI
How did MCE’s priorities do in the 2018 Farm Bill?
- LAMP is in with $50 million in mandatory annual baseline funding (a win!)
- CSP and EQIP remain separate programs but CSP will gradually lose funding (mixed bag!)
- FOTO is in with $50 million in mandatory annual baseline funding (a win!)
- SNAP is protected from cuts and work requirement changes (a win!)
- FINI is funded $250 million over 5 years; starting with $45 million per year in 2019, stair-stepped up to $56 million in 2023 (a win!)
Overall, MCE is happy with how our Farm Bill priorities turned out.
What does this mean for Missourians?
- LAMP’s permanent baseline funding of $50 million ensures into perpetuity that farmers, farmers markets, food system advocates, and local food entrepreneurs have funding to establish or expand markets for local farm products and establish or expand the creation of value added products such as salsas, jams, pickles, etc.
- CSP and EQIP will continue to be available to pay Missouri farmers for their adoption of conservation practices on their farms. However, with the decreasing in funding for CSP through the 5 year farm bill cycle, funding for participating in CSP will become more competitive and less farmers will be able to take advantage of the program.
- FOTO’s permanent baseline funding of $50 million ensures into perpetuity that the next generation of farmers and farmers of color are provided with funding, technical assistance, and outreach support to start and grow their farms.
- The lack of changes to SNAP ensure our food insecure Missourians have access to funding necessary to feed their families.
- FINI’s increase in funding makes it possible for Missouri farmers markets and other food system organizations to expand programs like the Double Food Bucks to more people and possibly into more markets.
Other Issues in the Farm Bill worth noting:
The Farm Bill has 12 Titles, covering topics such as nutrition, conservation, commodities, crop insurance, forestry, and energy. While there are impacts on the environment and public health in almost every title of the Farm Bill, MCE prioritized the programs in the titles we felt we could have the greatest impact knowing our allies were advocating on other programs and titles. With that said, we want to highlight a few of the disappointments in the 2018 Farm Bill that our allies fought hard to see change:
In the Commodities Title, payment limitation can now be multiplied not only via spouse and immediate family members but by adding cousins, nieces and nephews – effectively allowing for mega farms to continue to collect unlimited payments. There were also no payment limitations established for crop insurance premium subsidies. The 2018 Farm Bill also fails to remove the prohibition against renegotiations of the crop insurance agreements between USDA and industry ever saving the taxpayers any money.
To learn more about the complexities of the Commodities and Crop Insurance Titles in the 2018 Farm Bill, check out the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) blog on the subject.
To learn more about any of the MCE priority titles and how they shaped up in the 2018 Farm Bill, check out these additional NSAC blogs on:
NSAC’s 2018 Farm Bill Overview blog is also a great read to understand the overall impact of the bill!
Thank you to the over 600 individuals who signed our petitions, wrote postcards, and made calls to Congress about our Farm Bill priorities! Your efforts made these wins possible!