The current 2018 Farm Bill is expiring on September 30th and members of Congress in the House and Senate are continuing to develop their drafts for its renewal as the government works to avoid a shutdown.
The Farm Bill sets policy for agriculture, forest health, food aid programs, conservation, and other areas overseen by the Department of Agriculture.
Many agriculture and advocacy groups over these past few months have convened listening sessions and voiced their concerns and hopes for the future Farm Bill. Some are hoping the new bill will include boosted support for environmental programs, like paying farmers to develop land conservation plans and incentivizing practices like cover crops to promote soil health.
If Congress fails to pass a new bill by Jan. 1, 2024,
some programs will revert back to 1940s-era policy
that, among other things, would see the U.S. Department of Agriculture buying dairy products off the market, driving up consumer prices.
Who writes the Farm Bill?
The Farm Bill is authored by members of Congress on the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
What is not included in the Farm Bill?
There are several policy areas that are not included in the Farm Bill. Some of these include farm and food workers’ rights and protections; public land grazing rights; Food and Drug Administration food safety; renewable fuels standards; the Clean Water Act; and tax issues.
What programs are covered by the Farm Bill?
In addition to SNAP, the Farm Bill covers programs that assist with:
• Prices and income support for farmers who raise widely produced and traded non-perishable crops, such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice.
• Natural resource conservation efforts on working lands, as well as land retirement and easement.
• Federal loans
• Community and rural business
• Farm and food research, education, and extension for federal labs and state university-affiliated research groups
• Forest conservation
• Renewable energy systems
• Crop insurance
What will this Farm Bill look like?
The Congressional Budget Office’s recently released May 2023 baselines for USDA Mandatory Farm Programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) confirming that the 2023 Farm Bill, upon enactment, could potentially be the first trillion-dollar Farm Bill in U.S. history.
Total outlays across SNAP and mandatory farm programs for fiscal years 2024 to 2033 are projected at $1.51 Trillion. Compared to the cost of the 2018 farm bill at enactment of $867 billion, the 2023 Farm Bill will represent a $640 billion or 74% increase in spending – primarily driven by increases in SNAP outlays.
What’s currently happening?
The House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill are currently being written by their respective agricultural committees. Though marker bills continue to be introduced, the initial phase of Farm Bill drafting is coming to a close. Once they finish writing their separate versions of the bill, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will debate, amend and vote on their drafts. Then, these drafts will be brought to each full chamber to be debated and amended.
The new 2023 Farm Bill holds immense potential for shaping the future of our agriculture industry.
As we eagerly anticipate its enactment, we must remain actively engaged, advocating for policies that prioritize innovation, environmental stewardship, and fair market conditions.
Additional Farm Bill Resources
The Davis Food Co-op is more than a grocery store, it is a collective of people who have the power to shape local, national, and global food systems.
Right now in the United States, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in the journey to redefine our food system. The future of our food is being decided by lawmakers right now.
The best part? You have the power to voice your opinion to help shape it.
The Farm Bill, a crucial piece of legislation that can set the tone for our nation’s food and agriculture policy, is currently under review. Our elected officials are considering which proposals will be included in this year’s bill – decisions that will impact our food system for the next five years. We believe it’s time for a more equitable food system that puts farmworkers first and is more just, resilient, and regenerative, and that’s where you come in. By familiarizing yourself with the Bill and Acts that accompany it, you can put yourself in a position to advocate for that which you feel most strongly about.
A recent blog from National Co+op Grocers (NCG) provides you with a detailed list of current (and growing) proposed bills, outlining what they aim to achieve and who supports them. Whether it’s a bill that champions small-scale farmers or one that incentivizes organic farming, you can find the ones that you resonate with and lend them your support.
As part of NCG, we strive to advocate for our communities’ shared priorities for the food system. Together, we can make our voices heard and play a role in shaping a sustainable and equitable food landscape. Want to get involved but not sure where to start? No worries, the blog post above has you covered with easy instructions on how to contact Congress, whether you prefer to make a phone call or write an email. You’ll also find some tips to help you articulate your support.
The changes we want to see in the world often start from the grassroots. By raising our voices in numbers to our elected officials, we can influence policies that impact our food, our farmers, and ultimately, our communities. Let’s work together to create the food system we all deserve. Let’s act now, the food future depends on it!