Farm Bill

Congress is in the process of writing another farm bill. Political distractions are running high in Washington. But distracted or not – the current farm bill expires in September 2018.

If Congress fails to act, key farm bill initiatives that support beginning farmers, local and regional market development, and rural small businesses will come to a screeching halt. An opportunity to reform federal crop insurance and improve conservation programs also hangs in the balance. 

Our policy platform for the new farm bill stands around three pillars. 


Protect and improve farm conservation programs

Stewardship of our land and water for future generations is a core tenet of our work at the Center. Programs that support working lands conservation – soil, water, and habitat conservation on land that is also cultivated or grazed – help to steward our natural resources, while also keeping land in production to support local farms and local economies. We’ll work to retain major gains made in conservation programs in the last two farm bills, while also streamlining programs so they work better together. 

Reform commodity programs

Under current policy, the very largest farms can collect crop insurance subsidies without limit. If one operation farmed the entire state of Iowa, the federal government would subsidize their crop insurance on every single acre. That blocks beginning farmers out of the system and ensures that as the largest farms grow, they collect even more subsidies. We support a $50,000 cap on crop insurance premiums. One government report showed this cap would reduce subsidies to the largest 2.5 percent of farms, helping level the playing field for everyone else. Along with reforms to expand access and enhance conservation, we can make crop insurance work in alignment with our values and priorities. 

Protect investment in beginning farmers and entrepreneurial development

Entrepreneurial development is a proven strategy to create opportunity in rural America. A large set of programs that support entrepreneurial development, beginning farmers, local and regional market development, rural small businesses, and small towns are all set to expire at the end of the current farm bill. Extending, improving, and building on these programs is a central pillar of our policy platform and a key strategy for driving change in small towns across the nation. 

Over the course of the coming months, we will call on you to reach out to members of Congress to support specific policy proposals that align with these three pillars. Your voice in prompting members of Congress to act will be critical.

Click here to see our priorities for the upcoming farm bill.
Click here to see our priorities for crop insurance.
Click here to see our priorities for conservation.

Want to learn more or get involved? Contact us at annaj@cfra.org or coraf@cfra.org, or take our short survey to let us know what you’d like to see in the upcoming farm bill.

Farm Bill Notes

 

New Option for Farm Risk Management: Whole Farm Revenue Protection usage in Nebraska

For many years, farmers across the country have purchased crop insurance policies as a way to manage the risk of a yield or income loss. However, crop insurance has stepped into the spotlight as the highest costing federal farm program, at about $8 billion a year.

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Farm bill priorities: conservation

Conservation programs guide farmers and ranchers in improving land soil and water quality.

Maintain the strength of our working lands conservation programs, Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Preserve funding and continue technical assistance support. With these programs, farmers and ranchers can steward their soil and water resources for the next generation without breaking the bank.

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Untapped economic opportunity in organic farming

Organic farming in Iowa is on the rise, and proving to be an important economic opportunity for small to mid-size farmers. This growing industry is significant for our state because it gives farmers an important and often untapped avenue to continue farming and make money. In a tough farm economy, strong and viable economic opportunities such as this are a valuable option for farms.

Beginning farmers and ranchers benefit from act introduced this week in Congress

Do you support beginning and aspiring farmers and ranchers? Your voice is needed!

This week, a bill supporting beginning and aspiring farmers and ranchers – the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (BFROA) – was introduced in Congress by Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). 

The Center for Rural Affairs understands the challenges beginning farmers and ranchers face, and has endorsed BFROA. You can learn more about the bill here.