Earlier this week, the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill, which now awaits debate on the House floor. (You may recall the Senate’s Farm Bill passed back in June).
After an intense day of markups and much hard work on the part of Farm Aid partner organizations working the Hill, there were some notable gains for family farmers and good food, including an amendment to enhance farm to school programs in rural areas, another to broaden low income access to Community Support Agriculture shares, and the authorization of microloans for beginning farmers and ranchers.
However, there were some huge losses too. Some R E A L L Y maddening losses that compromise family farm livelihoods, our natural resource base and public health. These include the failure to enact conservation measures that would protect native grass and prairie-lands from destruction (known as SodSaver) and the complete unraveling of critical provisions to protect poultry and livestock producers from abusive market practices. Furthermore, a number of riders were snuck into the bill that will effectively give rubber-stamp approval of genetically engineered crops.
Obviously, much work remains to ensure the 2012 Farm Bill provides opportunities for family farmers to grow the good food that will sustain us now and into the future.
Next up, the House’s Farm Bill draft will go to the floor for a full vote, most likely in the next week or so. If it passes, then the House and Senate conference together to reconcile the two drafts before sending a final bill along to the President for his final signature.
Stay tuned! Your input matters, and this fight’s not over yet. We’ll keep you informed of ways to get involved as the process continues to unfold.