Approximately every five years, the federal government passes a package of legislation that impacts all rural Americans: the farm bill. The current farm bill is set to expire on Sept. 30, indicating the time is now to advocate for programs that impact rural livelihoods and communities.
The farm bill consists of 12 sections, called titles, that set funding levels and guidelines for programs, including conservation, credit, rural development, and crop insurance. In addition, the farm bill provides funding for nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP. Projected funding for the 2018 farm bill was $428 billion, with approximately 76% of this total funding the nutrition title.
Developed by the agricultural committees in both the Senate and House, farm bill legislation goes through rigorous debate and amending as lawmakers work together to address their constituents’ needs. This includes gathering constituent feedback on aspects of programs that should be kept, improved, added to, or removed.
After each committee has drafted its version of the bill, it is put to a vote before going to the full Senate or House floor. The Senate and House must work together to create a version of the bill that satisfies both chambers, and vote to pass the legislation before sending it to the President for a final signature.
The Center is dedicated to advocating for a farm bill that serves the needs of our rural constituents. It is equally important to get involved in advocacy as a rural resident. Whether you are a producer enrolled in crop insurance or conservation programs, own a small business, purchase meat from a local locker, or are interested in the well-being of your community, your voice can help us move important changes forward.
Before reaching out to elected officials to share your input on farm bill programs, it’s important to gather your thoughts, develop talking points, and have resources at hand to support your position. The Center’s farm bill platform outlines opportunities for improvement within working lands conservation, USDA language accessibility, crop insurance, rural development, and small meat processing.
If you are interested in joining the conversation or reaching out to your members of Congress about these topics, contact Kalee Olson at 402.687.2100 ext. 1022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.