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2018 Farm Bill Moves Forward

2018 Farm Bill Moves Forward

Good work, all! The Farm Bill was passed by the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13, and passed on Wednesday by a vote of 369-47 in the House of Representatives. The bill has big wins for organic! Our thanks to the “Big Four” in the House and Senate, as well as the many organic and other congressional champions who were instrumental in advancing organic and preventing various environmental and food access poison pills. 

 

Congratulations to the organic and sustainable farm groups, food access advocates, environmental groups and others who held the line in this Farm Bill for farmers and eaters against the industrial, consolidated food and agriculture industry.

But organic did take a big hit in provisions to weaken the statutory authority of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and we will need to continue to fight to reclaim the NOSB’s place in setting standards and keeping toxic substances out of organic production and processing.

Having been through many Farm Bills, what we see time and again is: the Farm Bill process neglects to take up the difficult work of planning for environmental health and justice in our food and farm system. Congress has failed to take a hard look at the future of agriculture, the role of agriculture in protecting the environment and communities, or the importance of a safety net for farmers as well as for all who eat.

For farmers, it continues antiquated support systems that line the pocketbooks of the largest of agricultural operations, while failing to protect the overwhelming number of family farmers who have produced our food for generations. Farm Bill after Farm Bill, programs increasingly support an industrial system and fail to support a diversity of producers who must compete against the subsidized industrial operations. 

While we fought hard for organic, conservation programs, SNAP, endangered species, structural issues such as payment limitations, consolidation, as well as stopping pre-emption of local pesticide regulations, and more, we are still just playing at the margins.

The Farm Bill process neglects to evaluate where our farmers and rural communities will be if we continue on this path; nor to lay the groundwork for true change that could support an economic system of multitude of farmers in thousands of communities. In fact, the current Farm Bill process puts our entire family farm system of agriculture and rural communities at risk.

While agriculture has the ability to protect the environment and mitigate climate change, the Farm Bill process barely addresses the good work of organic and sustainable family farmers who do this, and refuses to acknowledge the role of organic regenerative agriculture as the major player in advancing these environmental values.

Instead, the Farm Bill process has devolved into a redistribution of wealth to the biggest of players, and an affront on the less able who need increasing protection just to access food. 

We call upon Congress to take the Farm Bill -- and what should be a robust Farm Bill process -- seriously, and begin an overhaul of the entire legislation as soon as they have passed this status quo version.

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