Last updated on August 29th, 2012 at 08:25 am
With Congress on August recess until Sept. 10 and the Farm Bill left unfinished, members of the agricultural community have formed a coalition, Farm Bill Now. As of Aug. 23, the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance has joined 39 of the nation’s foremost agricultural organizations to rally the public to urge Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire on Sept. 30.
Without action from Congress, the Disaster Relief Bill (which was passed in the House just hours before recess) cannot provide aid to farmers and ranchers affected by this year’s devastating drought, and the current farm programs—including subsidy programs and millions of dollars in food assistance—will lapse.
Farm Bill Now includes those representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and bio-based product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups, as well as the nation’s two largest farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.
The coalition has plans for events in both Iowa and Capitol Hill. On Aug. 28, farmers in the coalition will discuss the Farm Bill Now effort at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. On the morning of Sept. 12, coalition representatives will gather at the U.S. Capitol to encourage Congress to pass the bill before programs expire.
In addition, Farm Bill Now has launched a website at www.FarmBillNow.com through which visitors can connect with their members of Congress and show their support for a new five-year farm bill. Using messages to Congress via social media, event locations and times and an online petition, the website gives farmers and consumers the opportunity to tell Congress that the farm bill needs to be completed before the current farm food law expires in September.
Farm Bill Now underscores its mission
In an Aug. 23 news release, the group issued a statement titled “Why We Need a Farm Bill” about the importance of new farm legislation for America’s farmers. The statement focused on the bill’s benefit for all Americans.
“Calling the farm bill the ‘farm bill’ suggests its impact is limited only to farms and to the rural areas to which they are so closely tied. It’s really a jobs bill. A food bill. A conservation bill. A research bill. An energy bill. A trade bill. In other words, it’s a bill that affects every American,” the release says.
According to the release, the Farm Bill “provides healthy foods to millions of schoolchildren and nutritious options to families in need. It develops and expands trade with valuable foreign markets.”
The coalition doesn’t forget farmers, however, saying that the bill does benefit U.S. farms, “98 percent of which are owned and operated by families.” The Farm Bill helps all kinds of farms, including “cattle ranchers and cotton ginners.”
The release also urges the American public to encourage their legislators, who are “home for summer town hall meetings and speeches,” to finish the legislation before its programs expire.