Farm Bill Now: Call to Action from New England Farmers Union

The House Agriculture Committee passed its version of a 2012 farm bill weeks ago on a bipartisan vote but the GOP leadership refuses to bring it to the House floor for debate.  In fact, the House GOP leadership intends to leave town next week without passing a five-year farm bill for our nation’s farmers.

Not so fast…Yesterday, Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, filed a Discharge Petition, a drastic measure that could force the leadership to bring the bill to the floor. If a majority of the House of Representatives signs the petition, the bill will be automatically be brought up for debate, amendments and a vote.
Please Call Your Representative
Ask Them to Sign the Discharge Petition

Why New England Needs a Farm Bill NOW
New England farmers need the certainty of a five-year farm bill.  Programs that support the development of local and regional food systems, beginning farmers, energy conservation, and our dairy farmers will all expire on September 30th unless the farm bill is reauthorized.

A short-term extension of the 2008 farm bill will be a costly and ineffective response to our nation’s drought and the long-term needs of our producers.  It is likely that conservation program funding would be raided to pay for a short-term extension. That would be a disaster for New England. Conservation programs are second only to nutrition in terms of farm bill dollars coming to our region.

This may be the best farm bill yet for New England.  Provisions in the House Agriculture Committee bill and the bill passed by the Senate will bring new resources to support local and regional food markets, farm based value added processing, measures to expand access to farmers markets and CSAs for low income consumers and implement historic reforms to dairy support.  Both bills provide comprehensive drought assistance for farmers.

Both bills bring new resources to the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Both bills also add new resources and a new Local Market Promotion purpose to the Farmer’s Market Promotion Program. The program will include support for direct marketing as well as support for local food business enterprises. Both bills include a directive to the USDA to develop insurance products appropriate to diversified crop and livestock producers.

Both bills include a regional equity provision to ensure an equitable allocation of conservation program funding for New England.  Both bills include a major overhaul of the dairy safety net by creating a new and voluntary Dairy Margin Insurance Program that provides subsidized premium coverage on the first 4 million pounds of milk.

The farm bill process must move forward. The bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee should be brought to the floor, debated, amended and passed to allow both house to begin conferencing the two bills.

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