Thirty-nine agricultural organizations have joined forces in an effort to raise public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a comprehensive five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire in September.
The coalition, called Farm Bill Now, comprises associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and biobased 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. Each organization has strong and distinct policy priorities, yet all 39 are committed to passing a farm bill this year.
Though the U.S. Senate passed their version of a farm bill in June, the U.S. House of Representatives did not come to a final agreement on their version, which was passed by the House Agriculture Committee just before August recess. In lieu of a farm bill and in response to drought conditions, the House passed disaster legislation that was met with some controversy among groups and individuals pushing for a full 5-year farm bill.
Coming together to call for passage of a final farm bill, the newly formed coalition has authored a document called "Why We Need a Farm Bill," which outlines their position on the farm bill issue. The groups wrote:
"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 farm bill affects our nation's ability to provide the necessities of life for a global population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050. Here at home, it affects an industry that provides 23 million—or 1 in every 12—American jobs.
"The farm bill has broad impact on our citizens and our economy. It provides healthy foods to millions of schoolchildren and nutritious options to families in need. It develops and expands trade with valuable foreign markets. By reducing spending significantly compared to prior farm bills, the proposals pending right now in Congress address the need to get our nation's fiscal house in order.
"And yes, it benefits American farms—98 percent of which are owned and operated by families. It helps big farms and small farms, major crops and specialty crops, organic farmers and conventional farmers, cattle ranchers and cotton ginners, farmers markets and national suppliers, and the vast range of other pursuits that make up American agriculture. This year, it would help farmers tackle the challenges posed by the worst drought in a generation.
"While Congress waits to finish the farm bill, we are united in asking all Americans to encourage legislators—home for summer town hall meetings and speeches—to finish this vital legislation before the current farm and food law expires in September. After all, it's your bill too."
New Website and Awareness Events
In addition to today's statement, Farm Bill Now launched an interactive web portal at www.farmbillnow.com, through which visitors to the site can connect to 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, www.farmbillnow.com gives both farmers and consumers the resources needed to connect with legislators.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 28, representatives of multiple coalition groups will discuss the Farm Bill Now effort at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, the nation's largest outdoor farm show.
Wednesday morning Sept. 12, representatives of many of the groups uniting today will gather on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to encourage Congress to pass the bill before programs expire at the end of the month.
Groups participating in the Farm Bill Now coalition include: 25x'25 Alliance, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Beekeepers Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Pulse Association, American Seed Trade Association, American Sheep Industry Association, American Soybean Association, American Sugar Alliance, Biobased Products Coalition, Council of State Governments East, Council of State Governments Midwest, Farm Credit Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Potato Council, National Sorghum Producers, National Sunflower Association, Northharvest Bean Growers Association, Northeast State Association for Agricultural Stewardship, Produce Marketing Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, State Agriculture and Rural Leaders, United Dairymen of Arizona, United Fresh Produce Association, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dry Bean Council, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, USA Rice Federation, Western Growers Association and the Western Peanut Growers Association.