We, the undersigned, worked diligently and in good faith with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to complete the 2012 Farm Bill in regular order. When that did not occur, the Committees jointly developed a plan for a one-year extension that, while flawed, had many merits. Like the Agriculture Committee leaders and members, we were shocked to learn that this agreement had been replaced by a biased extension that also disappointed the farmers, fishers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, farmworkers, and rural and urban communities we represent.
Direct payments were continued at the full 2008 levels – despite agreements to reduce them – while disaster response support for producers who have suffered up to three years of extreme drought and heat was eliminated.
In the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, Congress gradually adopted a set of programs to build the foundation for a new food system. This emerging food system, a small but growing portion of overall US Farm and Food Policy, has the potential to enhance equity for our nation’s diverse producers and farmworkers, secure a future in agriculture for new entry farmers and rural, urban and tribal communities, and provide fresh, local food for all consumers.
The Agriculture Committees’ December 31 agreement continued 2013 support for these critical programs, which ranged from Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers to Beginning Farmer Development, Rural Development, Specialty Crop, Organic and Urban Agriculture, and others, including a deep surprise cut in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) education program. All of this funding was zeroed out as the Farm Bill extension was attached to the fiscal cliff bill that has now become law.
We thank the Agriculture Committee leadership and members for their efforts to achieve balance. Beginning immediately, we pledge to work with the incoming Agriculture Committees to complete a full and fair Farm Bill that mitigates disasters, protects natural resources, provides equity and inclusion, constructs a new and economically viable future for agriculture and rural communities, and assures healthy food for all consumers.
National Family Farm Coalition
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association