Monday, July 22, 2013

Urge Congress to Finish a Full, Fair Farm Bill

Full and Fair Farm Bill NOW
The undersigned 262 groups from all parts of the country have joined together today to demand that Congress develop and pass a full and fair Farm Bill this summer, without further delay. A full and fair Farm Bill must include farm, food and nutrition, conservation and rural economic development programs and commodity and crop insurance reforms. It must also provide renewed and enhanced funding for the now-stranded but critical subset of programs that assist the most chronically under-served segments of agriculture and our rural and urban communities.  The House and Senate should immediately appoint conferees to work in an open and urgent fashion toward adopting a final full and fair Farm Bill this summer.

The final bill should include:

• All nutrition programs, while rejecting all cuts or changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would increase hunger or reduce access to nutrition education for any
 of the 47 million Americans who currently rely on the program to meet basic food needs;
• Full funding for farm conservation programs, enhanced and streamlined to better meet the pressing and accelerating natural resource and environmental issues of our day;
 • The cost-saving crop insurance and commodity subsidy reforms included in one or both bills including payment limit reform, national sodsaver, and conservation compliance re-linked to crop insurance- plus additional reforms needed to create a strong, targeted
 and cost-effective safety net; and
• Robust provisions and funding to increase economic opportunity for the nation’s diverse family farmers and ranchers, farm and food workers, rural and urban communities, and Indian Tribes.
• Provisions to ensure that a comprehensive farm bill with all titles will be updated on a regular five-year basis as conditions in the food and farm system change.

We support equity, justice, opportunity, and access across all titles of the Farm Bill. Therefore, we support removing elements that make the bill less fair and that weaken protections for consumers, including those in need of food assistance; or of farmers, labor and the environment. These include provisions restricting SNAP eligibility as well as those related to the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Commerce Clause.

We further pledge to work with Congress to secure passage of a Farm Bill package that continues the currently stranded programs that
 are so critical to producers and communities around the country. These vital programs – representing a small fraction of overall Farm Bill investments – support beginning, socially disadvantaged, tribal, women, and veteran farmers and ranchers; rural economic development and job creation; renewable energy; fruit and vegetable production; organic farmers; local and regional food systems; farmers markets; healthy food access; and community food and urban agriculture projects.

Completion of a full and fair Farm Bill in 2013 is critical to the health of our recovering national economy.

We strongly urge Congress to act now to:

• assure access to affordable healthy and nutritious food for all;
• support the next generations of our nation’s farmers and ranchers;
• protect farm and ranch land, forests, and other natural resources; • advance food and agriculture-based economic development;
• invest in sustainable agriculture and food system research;
• promote energy conservation and renewable energy production;
• rebuild local and regional food infrastructure and markets;
• ensure the success of our nation's diverse producers, farm and food chain workers, and communities in greatest need of the landmark programs wisely created by Congress in the past several Farm Bills, programs which must be funded as part of a full and fair farm bill.


262 groups, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)