Maybe the Farm Bill is more like Darth Vader: scary, intimidating, evil on the outside but with the potential to be a hero. The debate will be intense. Please, read a bit more to learn about the pros and cons of this version of the Farm Bill, and then pick up the phone to nudge your Senator to use the good side of the Force on the Farm Bill.
Healthy food comes from healthy farms, and Georgia’s senators have a lot of clout when it comes to agriculture.
The Jedi Farm Bill would:
- Restore funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative.
- Restore and increase funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.
- Create farm to school pilot projects for school districts in the USDA Foods and the Department of Defense “Fresh” programs.
- Direct the USDA to create a new Whole Farm Diversified Risk Management insurance program for farms growing a diversity of crops and livestock.
The Dark Side Farm Bill Would:
- Reduce funding for the most innovative and forward-looking working lands conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program by nearly a third.
- Fail to renew the very successful National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.
- Place no caps whatsoever on farm insurance subsidies.
- Increase the per farm commodity subsidy limitation by 92 percent and leave in place current loopholes that allow individual farms to collect unlimited payments.
- Reinvest most of the savings from direct payments back into new commodity and crop insurance subsidies.
- Fail to include a national provision to reduce subsidies for plowing up native prairie, and it wouldn’t link receipt of insurance subsidies to common sense conservation practices to preserve the natural resources on which our long-term food security depends.
- Significantly decrease or eliminate SNAP-Ed funding.
On a related note, it’s very interesting that at the same time Congress wrangles with the Farm Bill, USDA Commissioner Tom Vilsak unveiled several new efforts to support organic farmers. He even told NPR:
“I think it’s important [organic agriculture], as we take a look at how we might rebuild the rural economy and revitalize it. We want to make sure young people have an opportunity to get into the farming business and that can be expensive unless you start small.”
Call Senator Johnny Isakson at 202-224-3643, or email him here.
Call Senator Saxby Chambliss at 202-224-3521 or email him here.
Tell the person who answers the phone something like this:
“My name is ___________
“I’m calling to urge the senator to help beginning farmers and support sustainable agriculture by protecting the Conservation Stewardship Program and the successful National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.
Also, ask him to protect SNAP and important programs like SNAP-Ed.
Optional: “I grow/enjoy safe, nutritious food and think these programs are essential for Georgia’s physical and economic health. Thank you!”
(A big thanks to our friends at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for their help in assessing the Farm Bill, and for lobbying to make it as good as it should be.)