Special Edition: Senate Passes Farm Bill
After several days of intense debate, the Senate passed a farm bill by a vote of 79-14 last Friday.
I would like to thank AFT members and the Action Network for your tireless efforts over the past several months. There is much to be proud of in the bill.
In a victory for subsidy reform, the optional Average Crop Revenue (ACR) program passed. By adjusting with market prices, ACR is less production and trade distorting and represents a good step toward changing the way subsidies operate now and in the future. Your support helped this program get into the Senate package.
The Senate bill increases funding for conservation programs including wetland and grassland protection, stewardship of working lands and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. It also expands funding for nutrition, healthy diets programs for school children, and a number of local programs supporting farmers’ markets and expanded access for low income individuals. Other areas receiving additional funding include programs to save energy and help farmers and ranchers supply renewable energy to the nation, and programs to strengthen organic producers.
There is still work to be done. We were very disappointed that Senators did not find the political will to support amendments that more significantly reform commodity subsidies, or adequately fund programs to protect farm and ranch land (FRPP) and water quality (EQIP).
Now we shift our focus to the Conference Committee where the House and Senate bills must be reconciled. There are key differences between the two bills and we’re working to take the best from both for a bill that includes reform and keeps the increased funding for our key priorities—farmland protection and conservation, healthy, local foods, environmentally responsible renewable energy production and nutrition programs. We have a lot of work to do, but with your help it is possible.
Thank you again for all your efforts this past year. Please enjoy your holidays—and get ready for the final push on the farm bill early next year.
Farm and Food Policy Campaign Director
American Farmland Trust