2014 Farm Bill

Since we have been talking about policies I really wanted to discuss the newest Farm Bill in this post.  However, after reading articles from CNN, The New York Times, and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, I’m now feeling rather depressed and uninspired.

I had hoped this newest edition would remove, or at least reduce, the subsidies given to large, corporate ag businesses and be given to small scale, intergraded, family farms/ag businesses instead. I had also hoped there would be incentives for monoculture farmers to be more environmentally aware and to include sustainable practices into their farming techniques. Other aspects I had hoped to see were an increase in funds provided for school lunch and breakfast programs; an increase in funds for the SNAP program; and GMO labeling law.

What I had hoped to see in this new farm bill did not come to pass. However, there were a few small steps taken to improving our food system and now only time will tell if the changes will have the desired effect on the food system.

One benefit of this new farm bill is that direct subsidies have been cut. To compensate for that though, there is now a subsidy for crop insurance. This could be beneficial to a wider range of farmers, not just the big ag businesses, but only time will tell. Another bonus of this farm bill is it has set a series of conservation practices that a farmer must follow in order to receive subsidies (CNN.com). Although, I’m not sure what those practices entail since the bill cut conservation programs overall.

One of the major negatives of this farm bill is the spending cut made to the food stamp program. This change will cut $8 billion from the SNAP program funding over the next five years, reducing household monthly benefits by around $90(NYTimes.com). The bill does include a $200 million increase in funding for food banks, however this probably won’t cover the shift in demand caused from the decreased food stamp funding.

I was unable to find anything that said they made improvements to the school lunch and breakfast program. There was also no mention of GMO labeling. They did make a change that requires the country where an animal was born, slaughtered and processed to be included on the label. What are your thoughts on requiring those locations to be listed on meat labeling? I personally think it is unassay but am interested what you all think.

Overall I’m disappointed with this latest farm bill. Although, since it has been at an impasse for the past two years I’m glad they were able to finally pass something and there were baby steps taken to making it more small scale, local food movement friendly.

 

CNN article:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/04/politics/farm-bill/

 

The New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/us/politics/house-approves-farm-bill-ending-2-year-impasse.html?_r=1

 

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog:

http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/2014-farm-bill-outcomes/

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3 thoughts on “2014 Farm Bill

  1. I am glad to see an opinion on the new Farm Bill. I am very excited that there is crop insurance for small farmers. This will help to ensure that more produce from smaller farms can be realized. We need more food, especially locally. The drought in California and now the ice storms in the southeast are going to decrease food productivity this year, and having an incentive like crop insurance to benefit all farmers will help to get more land into production. Yahoo!! Go farmers!!
    Candace

  2. “reducing household monthly benefits by around $90 (NYTimes.com)”, is that per day or week? It is also disheartening to me to see the new farm bill. Less conservation payments, less SNAP, and a whole lot more of the same. I think the meat labeling is a great step for the local food movement, and I am thankful that John Tester and his teammates have passed the new cottage laws. Hopefully we will see the day were conservation is more based on what we need domestically to have a healthy environment and healthy people instead of what will benefit the major chemical corporations that are lobbying. I’m not going to hold my breath. Thanks for a great article!

  3. Thank you for posting about the Farm Bill. I have heard so much about it, but I’ve never really taken the time to sort out what was true or not about it. I am in absolute agreement that the cut of funds to SNAP is disheartening. And I am a huge believer in local farms and farmers. I wonder, however, if there could be an alternative legislation to attach the SNAP and school lunch programs to so that they would be brought more to the forefront, or do they have to remain part of the larger Farm Bill?

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