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Status and Next Steps for the 2008 Farm Bill
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Moving the agenda forward

Aside from the farm bill, there are many opportunities ahead to advance a new direction in U.S. farm and food policy:

  • Climate change legislation that recognizes U.S. agriculture can help reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by adopting new practices and technologies and producing low-carbon renewable energy;
  • Clean water legislation that takes advantage of improving agricultural practices and water quality trading systems as one of the most cost-effective measures to reduce water pollution;
  • Child nutrition legislation that expands access to healthy and local foods for children while increasing opportunities for farmers and ranchers; and,
  • Transportation and land use legislation that manages growth and protects working farms and ranches in rural and suburban edge areas.

Ongoing Coordination

Few believe this farm bill will remain untouched for its five-year life. Many of the pressures that drove the early debate on the 2008 Farm Bill, including international trade negotiations and budget reconciliation, will come back again. These pressures, and new demands resulting from skyrocketing food and fuel prices, likely will force Congress to revisit the farm bill well before 2012.

The progress and success of the 2008 Farm Bill can be measured in two ways:

  1. Additional funding, improved effectiveness and the creation of new programs to address important priorities; and,
  2. The unprecedented involvement and cooperation among previously disengaged stakeholder groups. The political landscape and the public debate have been changed forever. 

To translate the successes of changing legislation into changes on-the-ground, we must build off of our gains. The new partnerships that came together to pass this farm bill must continue working together and the public must stay involved to keep the farm bill on the national agenda.

American Farmland Trust