It is time to call or e-mail your Representative and Senators with an urgent message: we need an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill that specifically includes funding for vital smaller programs as well as the larger programs with permanent funding. Even a few months without a farm bill hurts farmers, rural communities, and the public as a whole.
The 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30, and it appears very unlikely that the Conference will complete a 2018 Farm Bill by that date. With election season upon us, the Conference will most likely reconvene after the Election and try to complete a bill during the “lame duck” session of Congress (Nov-Dec, 2018).
The worse news is that there are no plans within Congressional leadership to pass a short term extension of the 2014 Farm Bill to keep programs running at current funding levels until the new Farm Bill passes. Without an extension, the commodity subsidy, crop insurance, SNAP (food assistance), and part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program EQIP) will continue as they are. However, NRCS would not be able to issue any new contracts for Conservation Stewardship Program, Regional Conservation Partnerships, or easement programs.
In addition, without a 2014 Farm Bill Extension that explicitly includes continuation of smaller programs, the following ten key programs would be suspended, creating a major disruption in funding for local foods, rural development, organic agriculture (research and certification cost share), and training for beginning, veteran, and minority farmers. The affected programs are:
● Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)
● Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP)
● Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program (FINI)
● Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP)
● Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)
● National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP)
● Organic Production and Market Data Initiative (ODI)
● Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)
● Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (Section 2501)
● Conservation Reserve Program – Transition Incentives Program http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/farm-bill-expiration/
Call today! Tell your story about how any of the above listed programs, or the conservation programs, have played an important role in your farming operation or your local community, and urge Congress to ensure that the current Farm Bill and the USDA program it authorizes remain fully operational through this election season and until the 2018 Farm Bill Conference can complete the new Farm Bill.
For more information, see recent NSAC blog posts (Sept 10 – current) on the Farm Bill at http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/, especially the “what’s at stake” series and the September 14 post, http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/farm-bill-expiration/.