Bipartisan Senate Farm Bill Proposal Makes Evidence-Based Investments US Farmers and Communities Need

Statement by Mike Lavender, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 8, 2018

WASHINGTON (June 8, 2018) – The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee released a bipartisan farm bill proposal today, nearly a month after the House of Representatives voted down its extremely ideological version of the legislation. The Senate proposal maintains the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) without unnecessary additional work requirements, boosts funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives program, and includes an innovative new Local Agriculture Market Program that would strengthen regional economies and better connect farmers to consumers.

 The Senate bill also maintains or increases funding for critical farm research programs, including the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative. Senators made that decision just a day after prominent agricultural scientists met lawmakers to demand more investment in research to help farmers protect their soil and water. However, the bill cuts funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program—a popular program that incentivizes soil-building practices, which nearly three-quarters of farmers across seven Midwestern states want the farm bill to more strongly support, according to a recent poll.

Below is a statement from Mike Lavender, senior Washington representative at UCS.

 “In stark contrast to the House farm bill,  the Senate proposal makes many of the evidence-based investments our nation’s farmers and communities need. Most importantly, the bill provides permanent baseline funding for several programs which increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and connect farmers to new markets. The bill also supports young and minority farmers and ranchers who have traditionally had limited access to resources.

 “At the same time, millions of Americans—especially communities of color—are still struggling to put food on the table. By continuing to invest in SNAP, regional economies and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, the bill will create jobs, help all farmers thrive, and increase access to healthy and affordable food. These programs are strongly supported by groups like Good Food For All, a national network of community-based, grassroots and national organizations working collaboratively to advance racial equity through federal food and farm policy.”