Reposted from Farmers Market Coalition
Farmers, agriculture organizations, and local food advocates across the country have spent the past year fighting for a farm bill that’s supportive of farmers markets, the 2014 Farm Bill expired on October 1st with no replacement and no extension in sight. With midterm elections looming, and the House now on recess until after the midterms, it seems unlikely that any progress will be made before congress reconvenes for the lame duck session in November.
Unfortunately, even that timeline may be optimistic as some members of Congress have speculated that there may not be the political will to get a bill done during a lame duck session. This is an incredibly disappointing — if not deeply concerning — outcome for two reasons:
Over the course of the farm bill’s history, this is only the second time it has expired without a new bill in place (note: When the farm bill expired for the first time October 1, 2012, an extension quickly passed in December of that year, but a new bill wasn’t finalized until 2014). The increasingly partisan nature of Congress has now once again stymied what used to be a very bipartisan process.
Letting the farm bill lapse with no extension on the foreseeable horizon puts critical programs for farmers and farmers markets in jeopardy at a time when farmers are particularly vulnerable.While grants already awarded through the Farmers Market & Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI), and other federal programs will remain operational, no new grants can be awarded until Congress passes new legislation. Congress must either pass a new farm bill or pass language that authorizes funding for FMLFPP and FINI and eight other related programs, collectively known as the “Tiny But Mighty” programs.
Congress should pass a new farm bill, incorporating the Senate’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) before the end of the year. Absent that, Congress must pass an extension that provides funding for the “Tiny But Mighty” programs — otherwise these successful programs would cease to operate.
What can you do?
First, contact your members of Congress today, and tell them the time for delay is over; farmers need a farm bill now.
Second, remember this is an election year. Show up to town halls and campaign rallies in your area, speak up in your support of farmers markets, and vote!