PHI Statement on Passage of Farm Bill

Cross-posted from Public Health Institute

STATEMENT FROM MATTHEW MARSOM, VICE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND PROGRAMS 

“Today the President signed into law a new bipartisan farm bill that provides greater certainty for the country’s food and agriculture system, including many federal nutrition assistance programs, for the next five years.

“PHI is deeply disappointed in cuts that come at the expense of families already struggling to meet basic nutritional needs. This bill cuts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, by $8.6 billion dollars, reducing benefit levels by about $90 per month for 850,000 SNAP households that also participate in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Hunger remains a serious public health concern in every county in every state.

“Still, Congress came together to support other initiatives in the farm bill to improve access to affordable, quality nutrition for those most vulnerable to hunger. Funding levels for state SNAP nutrition education programs are maintained. SNAP retailer standards and stocking requirements are strengthened to ensure SNAP participants have access to more healthy choices when shopping with SNAP benefits. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative is authorized as a USDA program, increasing access to grocery stores and other food retailers in underserved communities. The bill also establishes a new initiative, Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grants, which will incentivize SNAP participants to increase their purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

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Farm Policy Roundup

roundup

Cross-posted from American Farmland Trust

By Jeremy Peters

President Signs Agricultural Act of 2014

In a special signing ceremony on the campus of Michigan State University, President Obama today signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law.

During the signing ceremony, the President highlighted the importance of the new agricultural bill, saying, “This Farm Bill includes support to help farmers so they don’t lose everything. It boosts conservation efforts to protect places for our children and grandchildren like the Mississippi River and the Chesapeake Bay, and it supports farmers markets to boost beginning farmers, local agriculture and organics. And it does this while reforming agricultural programs and saving taxpayers hard earned dollars.”

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CFJC Perspective on the 2014 Farm Bill

Cross-posted from Community Food and Justice Coalition

By Jessy Gill and Y. Armando Nieto

Today, on February 7, President Obama signs into law the reconciled House and Senate 2014 Farm Bill.  After two expirations and years of deliberation we welcome the passage of a full bill, but not because it is a brilliant piece of legislation. Any government that cuts $8.5 billion in food aid (SNAP) for its children and families should be ashamed, no matter the justification or frame.

For CFJC and many others, the passage comes with frustrations and disappointments.

It is accepted practice that one measure of a successful piece of legislation is that no-one is entirely satisfied with the outcome. Certainly, there is no arguing that no single community- based or social welfare organization will be satisfied with cuts made to get the bill passed through both houses of Congress. At CFJC, we are happy that some equity provisions successfully made it through negotiations and into the final bill, but other programs were eliminated under the guise of “savings.”

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Presenting…Farm Bill 2014!

Cross-posted from Fair Food Network

By Kate Fitzgerald

While many of you may have been indulging in post-Super Bowl analysis or poring over winter Olympic viewing schedules, hard core Farm Bill aficionados have had their sites focused on Congress, where the truly historic occurred last night. The Senate passed the Agriculture Act of 2014 and it’s off to the White House to be signed by the President. The nearly 1,000 page bill sets much of the nation’s farm and food policy for the next several years at a cost of almost one trillion dollars.

For those who have followed this blog for the past three years, the first message is that the bill includes a new fruit and vegetable incentive program for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). The Farm Bill authorizes USDA to establish the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant program and provides it $100 million over the next five years. There was broad bipartisan support for this provision based in large part on the success of Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks program (DUFB), which has been successful at helping low-income families eat more fruits and vegetables while also boosting farmer income.

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Late Breaking Farm Bill Web Forum: Thursday 2/6

Thursday, Feb. 6th, 1 pm PST/4 pm EST 

The Farm Bill passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday 1/29 and the Senate is expected to follow suit on Tuesday 2/4. Join us next Thursday 2/6 to learn about how the issues you care about faired in the final bill.

On our last web forum, you heard about a number of provisions that are vital to the health of urban and rural communities, the environment, and the farmers we all depend on to grow the food that we need to be healthy. We are excited to bring back the same panel of experts on agriculture, food, and nutrition policy to share their perspectives and unique expertise about the final bill and what its implications are for agriculture and the health of communities across America.

Panelists:


A New White House Report Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

09di1006-06final8x10Cross-posted from United States Department of Agriculture

A Weekly Message from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

A New White House Report Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

This week, the White House released a new report showing the critical need for Congressional passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. This comprehensive report highlights how the thriving business of agriculture is a cornerstone of America’s economy, creating jobs and boosting opportunity.

Agricultural production and its related sectors contributed $743 billion to U.S. GDP in 2011, accounting for nearly 5 percent of economic output. Today about one out of every 12 jobs in the United States are connected in some way to agriculture.

Meanwhile, driven by the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, agricultural exports reached their highest mark ever in 2013 at more than $140 billion. Due in part to trade promotion programs in the Farm Bill, the five-year period from 2009-2013 is the strongest in history for agricultural exports. Compared to the previous five-year period, the U.S. is exporting an average of four million tons more bulk commodities each year. These exports alone support more than a million jobs.

A new Farm Bill would give producers the tools they need to continue fueling agriculture to new heights, while promoting quality U.S. products abroad. Ultimately, as shown in this week’s report, those efforts have a positive impact across our entire economy.

At the same time, the White House report notes continuing economic challenges in rural areas that would be addressed, in part, by investments in the new Farm Bill.  Eighty-five percent of persistent poverty counties in America—counties where poverty has been high for decades—are in rural areas. And between 2010 and 2012, rural America actually lost population.

A new Farm Bill would provide needed investment in rural infrastructure that would create jobs and boost quality of life in rural America.  It would invest in the growing biobased economy that holds a promising future for our small towns – both through the creation of clean, renewable energy and the manufacture of advanced biobased products. It would strengthen conservation activities on America’s farms and ranches that expand opportunity for outdoor recreation and help to boost income in rural communities. All of these activities would help to revitalize rural areas.

And a new Farm Bill would provide critical nutrition assistance for American families who are working hard but struggling to make ends meet.

For more than two years, the Obama Administration has advocated for passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.  This week’s report is just another reminder: Americans can’t be left without a Farm Bill any longer. The stakes for our national economy, our agricultural production, and our rural communities are simply too high for inaction – and Congress should finish its work on the Farm Bill without delay.


What’s in the Farm Bill and where are we in the process? Web Forum Archive

On Friday 11/15 the Healthy Farms Healthy People Coalition hosted What’s in the Farm Bill and where are we in the process? A conference committee edition web forum to explore the differences between the respective Senate- and House-passed versions of the farm bill from a broad range of perspectives. Listen to the recording to hear analysis from a panel of experts in agriculture, food, and nutrition policy who offer their unique expertise to break down this massive piece of legislation. Learn about what the farm bill means for agriculture and health in communities across America.

Panelists:

Play or download the recording here.

View the presentation slides here.


Farm Policy Roundup

Cross-posted from American Farmland Trust  roundup

By Jeremy Peters

Support Conservation in the Farm Bill

Conference negotiations are ongoing to determine the fate of the 2013 Farm Bill, including big decisions regarding our nation’s conservation funding and policy. Throughout this process, American Farmland Trust continues to tirelessly work the halls of Congress supporting our key priorities.

American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine recently published an opinion piece on conservation compliance which traces the roots of modern conservation back to the writings of the father of soil conservation Hugh Hammond Bennett and discusses why Congress needs to pass this important conservation policy now more than ever.

During this crucial time, there are several things you can do to influence the process.

Keep reading … 


Farm Bill Progress Report

Cross-posted from National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

We have been hesitant to do much reporting on the House-Senate farm bill conference given the somewhat slow, step-by-step nature of the task of trying to hammer out a final, compromise bill.  But inquiring readers have asked where things stand, and we don’t blame them for asking, so here is a quick summary.

Conference Meetings – The Senators and Representatives who are members of the conference have not met again since the initial meeting on October 30, during which each member staked out their major priorities.  For better or for worse, no further meetings of the conferees are currently scheduled.

To date, the staff for all conferees have held staff-level meetings on the research, horticulture, energy, and miscellaneous titles, though they have not completed the staff-level consideration of any of those four titles as of yet.  During “staff conferencing” sessions, the goal is to try to settle as many issues as possible at the staff level, and to leave as few issues as possible open for further member-level debate.  Presumably, they will take one more stab at the four titles they have started in order to further limit the number of issues they punt to the member level.

The other eight titles – commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, forestry, and crop insurance – are still on deck.

The two chairs and ranking members – Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Cochran (R- MS) and Representatives Lucas (R-OK) and Peterson (D-MN) – have reportedly had numerous meetings to try to work toward deals on the big funding and contentious policy issues.  Solid information on the status of those talks is hard to come by, though there are sound bites galore on a near daily basis.

Budget Conference Interface – At the same time the farm bill conference is happening, another House-Senate conference is taking place on the budget for Fiscal Year 2014.  The interface between the farm bill and the potential budget deal has been a topic of increasingly heated debate, with farm bill conferees weighing in on various sides of the debate.

Keep reading … 


Farm Bill Conference Continues

Cross-posted from the American Farm Bureau Federation

Nov. 13, 2013—Not stopping to take a break during the House’s recent weeklong recess, the work of the top four farm bill negotiators rolls on, with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) floating the possibility of a deal before the end of the month.  Joining Stabenow in the meetings are Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.).

Stabenow, Cochran, Peterson and Lucas are hardly going it alone though.  Numerous other conference committee members and their staff are sorting through the nearly two thousand pages of farm policy legislation produced by both chambers.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spending is expected to be the biggest hurdle to clear in conference.  The Senate’s farm bill calls for a $4.1 billion reduction in SNAP funding over the next decade, compared to the House’s $40 billion in cuts.   Conferees have said little publicly about a strategy, but they are expected to be trying to find a level of SNAP reductions that would keep House and Senate Democrats on board, while getting enough support from House conservatives to send the bill to the president for his signature.  For his part, President Barack Obama has said numerous times that he’s anxious to sign off on the bill.

Despite critical differences in SNAP spending and a few other areas, the legislation approved by the Senate and the measure passed by the House both offer a basic-but-broad risk management platform supported by all types of farmers and ranchers in all regions. Among the balanced risk management strategy are options based both on crop prices and revenue levels.

Looking at the long list of similarities between the bills, both work to protect crop insurance and offer enhancements through new provisions such as the Supplemental Coverage Option, a program that allows farmers to purchase an area-triggered revenue or yield insurance product to cover the deductible associated with the underlying individual or area insurance policy.

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