Friday, May 18, 2012

Demand a Healthier, More Equitable Farm Bill Today!

Farmers and eaters across the U.S. (that includes every person in this country, btw, since we all eat) benefit from a fair and healthy Farm Bill. Right now the House Agricultural Committee is accepting public comments on this critical piece of legislation.

As usual, there are a lot of bad ideas that Congress is considering, including cutting funding to vital programs such as nutrition, conservation and support for organic and sustainable agriculture.

Click here to tell the House Ag Committee that it's time for real reform. Comments are due by May 20th to be considered part of the official Committee's Farm Bill field hearing record.

Here are some talking points suggestions:

Tell Congress you want

1) The full endorsement of all provisions of the Local Foods, Farms and Jobs Act (H.R. 3286).

2) Fully funded conservation programs, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, and making sure that enrollment in any new insurance subsidies are tied directly to compliance with conservation programs.

3) The implementation of all provisions of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R. 3236).

4) Maintaining the EQIP Organic Initiative.

Reports from Washington DC about the Farm Bill negotiations have not been pretty. According to an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle by Environmental Working Group’s Ken Cook and Kari Hamerschlag, Republicans in the House Agricultural Committee have already “voted to slash $33 billion from the food stamp program while leaving farm subsidies unscathed.”

The editorial goes on to report on the latest agribusiness boondoggle that steals food from the mouths of the hungry to create a “$33 billion new entitlement program that guarantees the income of profitable farm businesses. That's on top of $90 billion in subsidies for crop and revenue insurance policies.”

If this weren’t bad enough, the Senate Agricultural Committee has already voted to cut $4 million from organic research funding and cut funding to support Beginning Farmers in half

At the same time, the Senate Ag Committee has voted to get rid of wasteful subsidy payments, which sounds like a good thing. Unfortunately the Committee has proposed to replace it with a new subsidized insurance program that leading sustainable agriculture advocates are calling rife with opportunities for fraud and abuse.

While Congress is looking to get rid of direct payments to commodity farmers, the subsidized insurance program it proposes to replace it with will allow giant commodity farmers and insurance companies to walk away with billions in taxpayer dollars while putting the land, soil and environment at greater risk.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Ferd Hoefner, "By failing to place limitations on crop insurance subsidies and to re-attach soil erosion and wetland conservation requirements to crop insurance programs, the Committee has failed to do the full reform that is needed.”

Tell Congress how you feel by May 20:

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