Tag Archive | 2018 Farm Bill

FMC Analysis: Why the 2018 Farm Bill is Good for Farmers Markets


Farmers and market managers join FMC to visit lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for farmers market programs in the farm bill.

Posted On: December 13, 2018 by Farmers’ Market Coalition

After months of inaction and political maneuvering, Congress has hit the gas on the farm bill, introducing the Farm Bill Conference Report late Monday night, and then holding votes in both the Senate and House on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The report represents the final compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill, and includes important wins for farmers markets, farmers, and local food. In the end, the report leaned heavily on the Senate’s bill with regard to farmers markets; good news for our industry as the House proposal would have made massive cuts to key programs.

The bill now goes to the President, who is expected to sign it before the end of the week.

This achievement couldn’t have happened without the many calls, emails, and office visits that FMC members made over the last 18 months. This year, FMC engaged with 129 different legislative offices, while many of you met with and hosted your state and local officials at market.

Nine months ago, we were facing the very real prospect of the elimination of FMPP and the significant benefits that it brings our industry, but you stepped up to demonstrate the tremendous impact farmers, market managers, and local food leaders can make when we work together. The results speak for themselves, and we can’t thank you enough for standing shoulder to shoulder with FMC and advocates across the country to fight for the future of our local food systems.

So what are those wins for local food? Let’s take a look:

  • Permanent, baseline funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), a new program that combines the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program(FMLFPP), and the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) into a comprehensive local food program (see page 408).
    • The Program is to receive $50 million dollars per year (which gets the program to the permanent baseline level and ensures its continuation even if the farm bill expires) with 47% going to FMLFPP grants. While this represents a drop from funding specifically for FMLFPP as compared to the 2014 farm bill, the drop is offset by the security of baseline funding, as well as additional funding in LAMP for related activities.
    • One such example is the Grants to Support Partnerships, designed “to support partnerships to plan and develop a local or regional food system.”
    • FMLFPP applications also now require a 25% match from the applicant.
  • Language directing USDA Food and Nutrition Service to resolve its longstanding “one machine per location” policy, and allow farmers markets “to operate an individual electronic benefit transfer point of sale device at more than 1 location under the same supplemental nutrition assistance program authorization.” FMC members have, for years, expressed concern about the barrier this policy has presented to expanding SNAP access (you can read this language on page 149 of the report).
  • A big increase in funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program, which will also be renamed to honor local food pioneer and former FMC board member, Gus Schumacher.
    • Funding for the program will ramp up from $45 million in 2019, to $56 million in 2023. As with LAMP, this gets the program to permanent, baseline levels so that the program will continue even if the farm bill expires.
    • Evaluation requirements are simplified to eliminate redundant and sometimes burdensome reporting requirements, and increases training, technical support, and information sharing.
    • Includes funding for produce prescription grants through a seperate application process.
  • Continued funding for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
  • The bill also contains what is known as “report language” that directs USDA “to take appropriate action to ensure that EBT service is not disrupted and SNAP customers maintain the ability to use their benefits at farmers markets.” While report language doesn’t carry the force of law, it still is an important signal to USDA that Congress is aware and keeping track of this issue, particularly given the ongoing questions surrounding the shutdown of Novo Dia, one of the largest wireless SNAP processors for farmers markets.

What Happens Next?

Once the bill is signed by the President, implementation of the various provisions of the bill will begin to be put into effect. This happens as the agencies tasked with each provision create regulations through the process of “rulemaking”. How rapidly the farmers market provisions listed above are implemented depends on a number of factors. Programs with only minor changes, like FMLFPP and VAPG, typically don’t require rulemaking and will likely only need small changes to the Request for Proposals. This would put them on track for a similar timetable of previous years.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, USDA Food and Nutrition Service could take some time to implement changes to the “one machine per location” policy. Given that there is no written guidance on the policy, the agencies’ previous concern about altering the policy, and its generally wary approach, it is likely that the changes will go through a rulemaking process, and may not be implemented quickly.

Stay Engaged!

Of course, FMC will continue to keep you all updated on implementation developments as they happen. Politics is always moving and changing and we must stay engaged and vigilant. Stay in touch with your members of Congress. Stay connected to the issues. Donate to FMC’s advocacy efforts. Get out to market each week and support family farmers. These ways and others are how we can transform our local food systems together.

In the meantime, take a moment to celebrate this victory for local food and farmers markets – you deserve it!

Expired Farm Bill Bad for Farmers Markets & Farmers

unnamed (4)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!

Farm bill developments further food assistance stigma by including work requirements and diet education

OKT would like to point out that the developing farm bill further stigmatizes people receiving food assistance by including work requirements and education stipulations. These imply that the reason for hunger and under-nutrition is that people are unwilling to work and/or unable to make smart food choices. In fact, the problem is lack of  employment opportunities that pay a living wage and limited access to healthy foods within income-challenged neighborhoods. –Editor

GetStoredImageAugust Update:
2018 Farm Bill
Nutrition Programs

By: Grace Michienzi

Back in June, the Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill with a bipartisan 86-11 vote, according to the Washington Post (Dewey and Werner). This followed the partisan passing of the House of Representatives version of the Farm Bill, which had no support of the Democratic Party, primarily because of its “strict work requirements on able-bodied adults” seeking SNAP participation (Dewey and Werner). According to the Congressional Calendar, both the House and the Senate are currently in August recess, however, with the September 30 deadline approaching, the work on the Farm Bill is not over (“Days”).

According to Politico, the Senate voted to conference the Farm Bill on July 31 (Rodriguez). This is because, now that both parts of Congress have passed their versions of the Farm Bill, the House and the Senate have to come together to conference their bills and will end up with one bill that will pass both houses by the September 30 deadline. Senator Mitch McConnell is hopeful that conferees from the House and the Senate will produce a report after Labor Day, according to Politico (Rodriguez). According to the article, the changes to work requirements and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will likely be the biggest cause for debate, both between the two parties and between the House and the Senate (Rodriguez).

Some are speculating why the focus of the Nutrition Programs has even been on work requirements. According to The Hill, the work requirements have been a large part of the bipartisan debate in the House and the Senate, however, the proposed changes would only affect a “relatively small percentage of SNAP recipients” (Glickman et al). The writers suggest that the actual conversation should be about diet, citing research done at Tufts University that presents that SNAP recipients have a lower quality diet than income-eligible non-participants (Glickman et al). The editorial argues that amending funding that goes to SNAP-ed, a program that aims to educate SNAP recipients on nutrition, will “make SNAP even more effective for those it serves—and a better use of the public’s money” (Glickman et al).

According to SNAP-Ed Connection, Michigan’s Implementing Agencies of SNAP-Ed are Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Nutrition Network – Michigan Fitness Foundation (“State”). According to the writers at The Hill, there has never been a more important time for the debate about Nutrition to refocus, however, it is unlikely that the debate will change this late in the year (Glickman et al).


Works Cited

“Days in Session of the U.S. Congress.” Congress.Gov, Library of Congress, United States

Copyright Office, congress.gov/days-in-session.

Dewey, Caitlin, and Erica Werner. “Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Sweeping Farm Bill,

Setting up Fight with House.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 June 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/senate-passes-sweeping-farm-bill-setting-up-fight-with-house/2018/06/28/0007d532-7aff-11e8-80be-6d32e182a3bc_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2f17cf43668e.

Glickman, Dan, et al. “Focusing on Nutrition Is Paramount to Getting a Sound, Bipartisan

Farm Bill Out.” The Hill, Capitol Hill Publishing Corporation, 10 Aug. 2018, thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/401209-focusing-on-nutrition-is-paramount-to-getting-a-sound-bipartisan-farm-bill.

Rodriguez, Sabrina. “Senate Finally Votes to Conference Farm Bill.” Politico, POLITICO, 1

Aug. 2018, http://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-agriculture/2018/08/01/senate-finally-votes-to-conference-farm-bill-303256.

“State SNAP-Ed Contacts: Michigan.” SNAP-Ed Connection, United States Department of

Agriculture, 6 Aug. 2018, snaped.fns.usda.gov/state-snap-ed-contacts/michigan.

Comparing the Farm Bills’ Effects on Nutrition and Farmers Markets: House vs. Senate


GetStoredImageby Grace Michienzi,
OKT policy & communications intern

On May 18, The U.S. House of Representatives voted and failed to pass their version of the Farm Bill with a 198 to 213 vote, according to CNBC. House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested that he plans to reintroduce the bill after making negotiations on the Immigration debate in Congress, but it is unclear when the bill would be voted on again, according to the article.

According to NPR, one of the reasons that the bill failed was because of drastic changes to some of the programs that the bill supports. One of the most drastic changes is to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, a program that feeds over 40 million people in need. The changes would alter the criteria for eligible adults, mandating that any adult that receives funding must work or attend a job-training program for at least 20 hours per week or risk losing their eligibility. According to the USDA website, the SNAP rules already involve a work requirement. Adults aged 18 to 50 are limited to three months with three years of SNAP benefits unless they work or participate in a job-training program. However, the failed House version of the Farm Bill mandates that no able-bodied adult within this age range and without dependents would be able to receive benefits without meeting the work requirements, which amounts to about 7 million people, pushing those in between jobs or those who are unemployed out of the SNAP program.

Additionally, other nutritional support programs are at risk of losing funding if a new Farm Bill is not passed by the end of September. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, the 2014 Farm Law will expire at the end of September and if nothing replaces it, the law will revert back to “permanent law” from 1938 legislation. If this happens, extra programs that the law funds will be cut, including programs such as the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Program, and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. The Food Insecurity Nutrition Program is what currently funds half of the Double Up Food Bucks Program in Michigan, which allows SNAP recipients to “double” the amount of fruits and vegetables they buy at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. If a Farm Bill is not passed by September 30, these programs will all expire.

On the other hand, the Senate is focused on a much more bipartisan and less controversial bill that will likely be easier to pass by the September 30 deadline, according to Agri-Pulse. Although the official bill has not been released to the public yet, it is said to be much more moderate in its crafting. According to the article, Senate leaders including Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow have reached a deal that will be acted upon by the board panel by Wednesday. The current draft does not include any new eligibility exemptions regarding work hours like the House Bill does. In fact, most of the changes are minor and the bill is considered to be very similar to the 2014 bill, according to Ag-Web.

The Senate bill was crafted this way to get more votes in order to pass the bill by the September 30 deadline, which means that programs like Double Up Food Bucks may not lose their funding. According to an interview with KTIC Radio, Republican Senator Deb Fischer said that it does not make sense to bring up contentious debate about the Nutrition programs when they need to get the Farm Bill passed soon. According to the article, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate may appear to be working together to get this bipartisan legislation passed, but it remains unclear whether President Trump will sign or pass the legislation when and if it makes it to his office.




Booker, Brakkton, and Dan Charles. “Republican Farm Bill Calls On Many SNAP

Recipients To Work Or Go To School.” National Public Radio, NPR, 12 Apr. 2018. Accessed 5 June 2018.

Brasher, Philip, and Spencer Chase. “Senate Ag leaders reach deal on farm bill.” Agri-Pulse,

Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc., 7 June 2018. Accessed 7 June 2018.

Doeschot, Bryce. “(Video) Senate Agriculture Committee Leaders Announce Farm Bill

Consideration.” KTIC Radio, Nebraska Rural Radio Association, 7 June 2018. Accessed 7 June 2018.

Feldman, Ben. “What does the House Farm Bill ‘No’ Vote Mean for Farmers Market?.” Farmers

Market Coalition. Accessed 6 June 2018.

Herath, John. “Date Set for Senate Farm Bill Markup.” Ag-Web, Farm Journal Media, 7 June

  1. Accessed 8 June 2018.

Prumak, Jacob. “House fails to pass farm bill amid Republican rebellion over immigration.”

CNBC, CNBC LLC, 18 May 2018. Accessed 6 June 2018.

“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” United States Department of Agriculture

Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 26 Feb. 2018. Accessed 8 June 2018.

What does the House Farm Bill ‘No’ Vote Mean for Farmers Market?


Farm Bill cuts to farmers’ markets’ funding will impact the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market’s and other local farmers’ markets’ programs.

Reposted from the Farmers’ Market Coalition Newsletter

Last Friday, the House of Representatives voted down a draft of the farm bill, with thirty House Republicans joining all of the Democrats in voting ‘no’ on the bill. Thanks to YOU and our allies in food and farming who made their voices heard through visits, emails, and calls, this harmful bill developed opposition across the political spectrum! Many of the ‘no’ votes were based on the substance of the bill itself, while some members of the Freedom Caucus opted to vote ‘no’ in an effort to get a vote on an immigration bill that they support.

If you have a moment, now would be a great time to thank your Representative if they voted no on the bill. You can find the results of the vote here. If your Representative voted no, you can still contact them to express your concern.

So what now?

While exactly what happens next is unclear, we do know that the results of Friday’s vote means it’s less likely that a new farm bill will be complete when the current one expires on September 30th. News this week suggests that House Republicans plan to bring the bill up for another vote on June 22, after voting on the immigration bill in question. It remains unclear if there would be enough votes to pass the bill, especially if no additional changes are made to the bill.

Even if the House does pass a bill, they will have to reconcile it with the Senate version. The Senate version is expected to be much more bipartisan, and as a result, very different from the House version.
What happens if a new bill isn’t negotiated in time?

Should Congress fail to pass a new bill or at least extend the current bill, farm bill programs would revert to what is known as “permanent law,” written back in 1938. This threat has historically served as motivation to complete a deal on time. In the event that lawmakers aren’t able to agree on a new farm bill by September 30th, the most likely scenario is that they will extend current bill, as was done in 2012.

Unfortunately for farmers markets and the farmers who depend on them, a standard extension would only include those programs that have what is known as baseline funding, which would not include the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Food Insecurity Nutrition Program, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition.

Fortunately, some legislators are already beginning to think about the fate of these programs and plan for their future.  FMC is working with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to advocate for continued funding for these important programs.

House Farm Bill Increases Pesticide Risks to Children, Farmworkers

TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2018

The House farm bill includes several proposals that would roll back key pesticide protections, putting children, farmworkers, communities and even endangered species at risk.

Pesticides pose serious health risks, particularly to children. For example, chlorpyrifos is a potent neurotoxin that harms children’s brain development. Other pesticides have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues like lower sperm countsenvironmental harms, and acute health effects like nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Some pesticides, such as atrazine, which is linked to reproductive harm, routinely contaminate drinking water systems.

Because federal laws fall short of protecting Americans from the potential hazards of pesticides, some states and local governments have stepped in to protect their communities by enacting their own restrictions. This map, created by our colleagues at Beyond Pesticides,  shows the number and diversity of communities that have taken action.

For example:

  • Cherry Hill, N.J., just outside of Philadelphia, has a pesticide-free parks program.
  • Rockland County, N.Y., restricts the use of pesticides on public property.
  • New Paltz, N.Y., banned the use of toxic pesticides on village-owned lands and adopted organic pest-control methods.
  • North Miami, Fla., has an integrated pest management law that would restrict the use of some pesticides on city property and encourages use of pesticides to be a last resort.
  • Irvine, Calif., restricts the use of pesticides on public property, including playgrounds, in favor of organic pest control methods.
  • Encinitas, Calif., also has a policy restricting use of some toxic pesticides, neonicotinoids, and urges the use of the least-toxic pesticide first.
  • Washington, D.C., restricts use of toxic pesticides in public spaces like schools, some private spaces like day-care centers, and properties near bodies of water.
  • Wichita, Kan., launched a pilot pesticide-free parks program.
  • South Euclid, Ohio, banned spraying pesticides in parks and on other city-owned properties.

But the House farm bill targets these kind of local restrictions, putting kids and communities at risk.

The House version of the farm bill, introduced last month, would block local governments from adopting their own pesticide regulations, even if those regulations are designed to protect kids and other vulnerable populations. Section 9101 of the bill would prevent cities, counties and communities from passing laws banning the most toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos, or restricting spraying in places like schools or playgrounds where children might be exposed. Given the critical role that local governments have historically played in regulating pesticide use, this would be a significant setback for public health.

The House bill would also allow farmers to directly spray pesticides into drinking water supplies. Under current law, farmers must get a permit before they can spray pesticides into water, including sources of drinking water. Sections 9117 and 9118 remove the federal requirement that farmers get a permit before spraying pesticides into water and prohibit states from imposing their own requirements.

Making it easier to spray toxic pesticides into sources of drinking water and removing government oversight undoubtedly increases the likelihood drinking water will be contaminated. It also increases the burden on water utilities to clean up the messes pesticide applicators make.

The House farm bill could also hurt the farmworkers responsible for applying pesticides.

Farmworkers are often responsible for applying pesticides, and handling the crops and land where pesticides have been sprayed. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 workers may be poisoned by pesticides every year. To better protect the most vulnerable workers, in 2015 the EPA finalized new agricultural worker protection requirements that imposed age requirements for handling pesticides and required better training and access to information for workers. Recently, the EPA delayed implementation of these new requirements and announced plans to roll back some of the key workers’ protections in 2015 rule.

In response, a group of senators led by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., placed a hold on the reauthorization of a key government pesticide registration program until they receive adequate assurance that workers would be protected. Instead of addressing Udall’s concerns and protecting farmworkers from pesticide exposure, the House farm bill simply reauthorizes the program without any farmworker protections.

The House bill also threatens endangered species.

Under current law, the EPA must consult with other agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service before approving a pesticide that could impact an endangered or threatened species. Section 9111 of the House bill would allow the EPA to approve pesticides without going through this process, and would limit the ability of groups to sue when an endangered species is threatened by a pesticide approval. Another provision in the bill would allow for some uses of methyl bromide, a neurotoxic fumigant pesticide currently being phased outbecause it contributes to ozone depletion.

These provisions show how the farm bill is being used to systematically weaken – instead of strengthen – pesticide protections. Congress should prioritize safety for kids and communities, not protect pesticide manufacturers.

Farm Bill Update: the Good, the Bad, and the Uncertain

PrintReposted from the Farmers’ Market Coalition

Last Thursday, the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Mike Conaway, introduced draft farm bill legislation, which Democrats and anti-hunger groups were quick to deride. For farmers markets, the legislation in its current form would be something of a mixed bag.

The best news in the bill for farmers markets comes from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program, which would get a big jump in funding to $275 million over the next five years, assuring the program baseline funding, and naming the program after former Farmers Market Coalition Board Member, Gus Schumacher.

In more modest news, the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program would be extended at the same funding level as in the 2014 farm bill. Here at Farmers Market Coalition, we had hoped to see an expansion of the program to include low-income veterans, and will continue to work with the Senate to encourage them to include it in their version of the bill.

The bad news for farmers markets is a big one: mandatory funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) was eliminated entirely.

WhyMarkets_2017Small in terms of funding, but mighty in impact, FMPP has proven time and again to increase sales for direct-marketing farmers. Greg Traywick, County Extension Director of Foothills Farmers Market, reported total sales per vendor increased by 240% over three years after receiving an FMPP grant. The program also helps to increase the number of vendors selling at direct-to-consumer markets, supports new farm businesses, and enables markets to hire much needed staff.

While FMPP remains authorized and has the ability to receive funding through the annual appropriations process (what’s known as discretionary funding authority), the program has never received discretionary funding, and it’s unlikely that it would in the future. Given the success of the FMPP program, we hope that the House Agriculture Committee will see fit to fix this oversight, and restore mandatory funding at the $30 million dollar level of the 2014 farm bill.

Read how the FMPP program helped increase Texas Rancher Amy Greer’s farmers market sales by 34%.

So, what’s next?

While the release of the House bill is an important step, the path to a new farm bill is far from over, and it’s unclear what that path will look like. Normally, members of the committee would offer amendments through what is known as “markup.” Markup is scheduled for this week, but it remains unclear how that process will go and whether Democrats will even offer amendments. Even once the bill passes out of committee, there is no guarantee enough votes will be secured to pass the bill on the House floor.

Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture Committee continues to work on their version of the bill without the partisan rancour that exists in the House, and reportedly without the same SNAP work restrictions. Should both chambers pass a bill before the September 30th deadline, they will still need to reconcile the bills.

How can you help?

While the path forward is uncertain, it is important for legislators in both the House and Senate to hear from you, particularly with regards to the Farmers Market Promotion Program. Please contact your legislators to express your desire to see FMPP funded at the same $30 million level as in the 2014 farm bill.

Click here to FIND and CONTACT your representatives

Click here for a SAMPLE SCRIPT for emails and phone calls