Tag Archive | 2018 Farm Bill

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.

 

Sources:

 

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.

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

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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