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.


Play or download the recording here.

View the presentation slides here.

Farm Bill Web Forum Friday 11/15

What’s in the Farm Bill and where are we in the process?
Join us for a Conference Committee Edition Web Forum

Friday, Nov. 15, 9 am – 10 am (PT)/noon – 1 pm (ET) 

The Farm Bill debate is on again as the conference committee negotiates how to reconcile the respective Senate and House passed versions of the bill.

What are the differences between the bills and what do the conference committee negotiations mean for 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 we need to be healthy?

Hear analysis from a panel of experts in agriculture, food, and nutrition policy who will offer a variety of perspectives and 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.


Farm Bill Negotiations Continue, Big Questions Remain

Cross-posted from American Farmland Trust’s Farm Policy Roundup

By Jeremy Peters

Leaders of the Farm Bill conference committee met this week to discuss progress on negotiations. While the House of Representatives is in recess, the four agriculture committee leaders continue to work on areas where agreement can be found.

The House recess means formal negotiations are not expected to continue until after November 12. Nutrition and crop insurance remain top issues for negotiators to find agreement. Nutrition decisions were made even more complex with $11 billion in increases from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, expiring on November 1.

American Farmland Trust has been in close discussion with the agriculture committees, and the conservation title is one area where agreement can be found and negotiations are proceeding. A majority of issues in conservation appear to have been largely settled, however there remain several questions for conference committee members to decide including programmatic funding and acreage levels, and priorities such as conservation compliance and sodsaver.

Click here to keep reading.

House Approved Farm Bill Threatens Future of Farmland Conservation Programs

Cross posted from the Farm Policy Roundup

By Jeremy Peters

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday voted by a margin of 216 to 208, taking the precarious step of passing a farm policy-only version of the Farm Bill that House leaders brought back to the floor. This modified version of the Farm Bill for the first time in 40 years did not include nutrition title programs, which comprise roughly 80 percent of spending under the original bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee. American Farmland Trust joined with more than 532 national, state and local organizations opposing splitting the Farm Bill into farm and nutrition components. Absence of nutrition title programs resulted in strong Democratic opposition to the historically bi-partisan Farm Bill with all Democrats voting against the modified bill.

Click here to continue reading.

House Farm Bill Stalls

Cross posted from American Farm Land Trust

By Jeremy Peters

It was a turbulent week for the farm bill, with tremendous momentum as the U.S. House of Representatives worked day and night nearing completion of the bill before abruptly voting to reject final passage. The House vote on final passage failed by a margin of 195-234. Specific votes can be found on the House Clerk’s website. Failure to pass the bill has widely been blamed on wide disagreement on the level of cuts to food nutrition programs and lack of sufficient farm program reform.

American Farmland Trust issued a statement expressing disappointment with the vote, commending House Agriculture Committee leadership for their work and recommitting support for passing a five-year bill. We are assessing the situation and will be working with the committee and our partners to determine what options are available for the bill to pass yet this year.

Click here to continue reading.

U.S. House of Representatives Defeats Farm Bill

Statement from Public Health Institute


“Today the House of Representatives failed to approve its farm bill (HR 1947) by a vote of 195 to 234.

“PHI applauds members of Congress who voted no on final passage because of the impact this legislation would have on our most vulnerable children and families.

“While we recognize the bipartisan leadership of Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson in their attempts to advance this legislation in a challenging political climate, any short-term savings gained by cutting SNAP benefits and SNAP nutrition education would be far outweighed by the long-term costs to the nation’s health.

“The House farm bill’s $20.5 billion in proposed cuts to our nutrition programs were unacceptable. Nearly 2 million individuals would have lost their SNAP benefits entirely, 210,000 children would have lost free school meals, and 850,000 households would have seen their benefits cut by an average of $90 per month. The bill would have imposed punitive restrictions and participation requirements on SNAP beneficiaries and made deep cuts to nutrition education services.

“The current farm bill legislation is set to expire on October 1 and Congress must act to extend current law or enact new farm bill legislation.  In any future farm bill action, PHI urges Congress to find a bipartisan approach that will protect low-income children and families across the country who rely on SNAP and SNAP-Ed to keep healthy foods on the table.”

Protect SNAP and SNAP-Ed

Action Alert from Public Health Institute

The full Senate passed a Farm Bill this week; read our statement.

Now, all eyes are on the US House of Representatives, where the threats to our nutrition programs are even greater. The House bill already cuts nationwide SNAP benefit levels by $21 billion, and SNAP-Ed by $274 million—and we’re expecting amendments that will try to make those already devastating cuts even deeper.

Call your representative and tell them America’s hungriest people are depending on full funding for our nutrition programs.

When SNAP-Ed’s Harvest of the Month program showed up in Chico, California elementary school classrooms with fresh fruits and vegetables, some students didn’t even recognize the foods they saw. But just learning about and tasting new fruits and veggies was enough to make a remarkable change: these students ate twice as many vegetables as kids who weren’t in the program.

Here’s a picture from one of those kids, showing the foods they ate:

For talking points and sample tweets, read the full action alert from Public Health Institute.

Public Health Institute Statement on U.S. Senate Passage of the Farm Bill

Cross-posted from the Public Health Institute


“Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 954), commonly known as the farm bill, by a bipartisan vote of 66-27. The Public Health Institute (PHI) congratulates Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Cochran (R-MS) for their leadership to advance this legislation in a bipartisan fashion.

“The Senate farm bill adopts important policy and program improvements that promote healthy eating for all Americans. The Senate wisely rejected deeper cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and will continue to fully fund SNAP-Ed, a vital nutrition education program that promotes healthy options for low-income children and families receiving SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. This bill also provides important support for fruit and vegetable growers, promotes local agriculture, creates jobs and provides new opportunities to increase low-income families’ access to nutritious foods.

“PHI is disappointed that the Senate bill contains $4.1 billion in cuts that would reduce monthly nutrition benefits for 500,000 SNAP families by an average of $90 a month. These cuts are significant and will put these working families under additional hardship and at nutritional risk.

“As the farm bill moves to the House of Representatives, PHI urges members to reject the deep $20.5 billion in proposed cuts to the nutrition programs that would compromise the health and well-being of vulnerable children and families who are struggling to make ends meet, and to restore funding for SNAP benefits and SNAP nutrition education.

“PHI will continue to work with Congress and our partners in public health, nutrition, hunger and agriculture communities to protect SNAP and SNAP-Ed as the farm bill advances.”

Farm Bill 2013: A Mixed Bag

Cross-posted from Fair Food Network

By Kate Fitzgerald

Illustration by NSAC

Last week, the Senate and House Agriculture Committees both passed a Farm Bill, and on Monday, May 20, debate on the Senate Ag Committee bill (S. 954 The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act) began in the full Senate. The full House is expected to take up its Ag Committee’s bill (H.R. 1947 The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act) sometime in June.

After each chamber passes a version of  its bill a conference committee will hash out the differences between the two, return the compromise legislation for final passage by both branches  of Congress, and it will then go to the President for his signature. Ideally, this process will be completed before September 30th, when the current extension expires.

The primary difference between the Senate and House bills is the degree of reduction in spending on the SNAP program (formerly food stamps). The Senate bill confines the change to the SNAP program to one provision some states use that links utility assistance for low-income families to SNAP eligibility, a change that will result in about $4.1 billion less in federal spending on SNAP over the next ten years.

The House bill tightens the Senate’s approach to utility benefits and goes much further by making substantial changes to other provisions of the SNAP program. These changes are expected to cut SNAP spending by more than $20 billion over the next ten years. (For more information on the nutrition cuts in the House bill, please read this thorough analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.)

The Senate bill reduces total Farm Bill spending by about $24 billion total over the next ten years, and the House bill reduces spending by almost twice as much to $40 billion. Total spending on all the programs in the bill over the next decade will be almost one trillion dollars.

A Mixed Bag
Both versions of the Farm Bill contain some good provisions that could provide crucial support for the development of local and regional food systems and to integrate healthy regional agriculture into USDA’s nutrition programs. The Senate endorses programs such as Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks and provides an average of $20 million/year for a competitive grant to fund similar programs around the country. The House also includes this provision at a lower funding level. Both bills include:

Keep reading

Tell the Senate: Oppose Cuts to SNAP and SNAP-Ed

Action Alert from Public Health Institute

The full Senate is discussing the Farm Bill this week. Right now, the bill protects SNAP-Ed, but proposes $4.1 billion in cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps). These nutrition programs are under threat and need your support now.

Over the next few days,  we’ll see amendments that try to strip even more funding from SNAP, and cut SNAP-Ed and other nutrition programs. We need to call today and make sure our senators hear loud and clear that they have to oppose any cuts to our nutrition programs.

Call your senators and tell them America’s hungriest people are depending on full funding for our nutrition programs.

Talking Points for your call

Introduce yourself to your senators, tell them you are a constituent, tell them you strongly support provisions in the Senate Bill S. 954 that protect SNAP-Ed and increase access to healthy foods, and ask them to:

  • Vote No on the Thune amendment, which proposes significant cuts to SNAP-Ed
  • Reject amendments that would cut funding or weaken nutrition programs, including SNAP and SNAP-Ed.
  • Protect other important nutrition programs like the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs and proposals to strengthen SNAP retailer standards to improve access to healthy foods in low-income communities.

Call your Senators

OpenCongress.org provides an easy, zip-code lookup that provides your senators’ direct phone numbers. Find your senators’ numbers.

On twitter? You can also find and send a tweet to your Senator.

Here’s a sample tweet:
@senator, Vote for a #FairFarmBill that fully protects #SNAP and #SNAPEd. America can’t afford not to feed its hungriest families.

@senator, #SNAP-Ed works! A #FairFarmBill puts the healthiest foods on the tables of those who need it.