Your engagement with lawmakers is critical

A big thank you goes out to everyone who contacted their representatives about the House draft of the farm bill, H.R. 2. Democracy only works through the consistent and cumulative engagement of citizens, and really — truly — every call matters.

Even if your representative does not see eye-to-eye with you, your engagement is critical. When you call, you are not only sending a message to your elected officials about your view; you are also building in yourself the skill and practice of regular civic engagement. An engaged citizenry is a strong citizenry, and a strong citizenry is needed to establish and maintain strong rural communities.

On Friday, May 18, we saw a win for rural America when the House draft of the farm bill failed to pass by just 15 votes.

The bill’s proposals were a giant step in the wrong direction. The bill proposed to eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program and cut funds for working lands conservation by nearly $5 billion over ten years. The bill also proposed a troubling set of rollbacks to common-sense limitations on subsidy payments, and creating loopholes for the largest operations to access unlimited subsidy payments. Finally, the bill proposed to slash funding for programs that spark rural economic development. These programs, such as the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, and the Rural Microentrepreneur Program, facilitate the development of rural businesses, and their loss would have been sorely felt in rural America.

Thankfully, these proposals will not be moving forward. The Senate has not yet released their proposals for the farm bill — rest assured, we will let you know when they do.

Again, thank you for being in this movement with us. Onward!