On Tuesday as we were all celebrating the start of the New Year, Congress passed the “fiscal cliff” bill. This bill included the farm bill extension. The Rural Coalition has put together a petition asking Congress to support a Full and Fair Farm Bill. This petition will be presented to Congress on Tuesday January 8th and requires all signatures by Close of Business on Monday January 7th. Please note this is not a Southern SAWG initiative. However, we do encourage your support of this petition. Please if you agree with what the Rural Coalition has outlined in this petition please provide your signature.
From the Rural Coalition:
New Year's Surprise - A Bad Farm Bill Extension Is Now Law
A disastrous nine-month extension of the 2008 Farm bill was approved by the US Senate in the early hours of the New Year attached to the fiscal cliff bill. The extension was authored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in his negotiations with Vice President Joe Biden. It has now become law as part of much larger fiscal cliff bill approved by the US House of Representatives on New Years Day, and signed on January 3, 2013 by President Obama.
The final product falls far short of the hopes of the agricultural, rural, and urban communities as well as the leadership in both Agriculture Committees. For many months, farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, Farmworkers and rural and urban communities with allies in the business community worked in good faith with the
Agriculture Committees on a full 5-year Farm Bill. The Senate had passed their version of a full 5- year bill last summer. Disagreements over funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a new dairy program were among issues that delayed a vote on the House Agriculture Committee version of the bill in the full US House of Representatives.
Following failure to complete the full bill in regular order, the Senate and House Agriculture Committees in late December jointly developed a one-year extension that while flawed at least had some balance. Their version of the extension included support for a critical set of programs that are forming a foundation for a steadily emerging new food system. For example, the Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers we have long supported would have received mandatory funding of $15 million and the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program, $19 million for FY 2013.
The Agriculture Committees also responded to farmers across the nation devastated by drought and heat for the last three years with measurable disaster relief and included a small reduction in direct payments in commodity programs. However, when the final deal on the extension was worked out, the Agriculture Committees weren't included and most of those positive steps forward were reversed.
Direct commodity payments were kept at 2008 levels, despite agreements in the Agriculture Committees to reduce them. Disaster aid was removed. FY 2013 funding for the Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, and the Beginning Farmer Development Program, the Rural Value Added Program, specialty crops, nutrition education, organic and urban agriculture, and some conservation, forestry, energy and other critical programs, was zeroed out.
A new Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2013. The Agriculture Committees have expressed their intention to continue work on a full five year Farm Bill. We will keep you informed of the future opportunities for action. As a first step in the continuing saga of the 2012 Farm Bill, we have prepared the following Statement of Support for A Full and Fair Farm Bill, and we urge your organization to sign on.
For more information contact: Please send any questions or feedback you receive from offices to Marguerite Conroy at firstname.lastname@example.org