Final Farm Bill Should Include Reform and Investment

With the Farm Bill process finally moving forward, we sent a letter to the House-Senate Conference Committee strongly urging them  to emerge with a final 5-year Farm Bill that addresses the needs of family farmers and ranchers, small towns, rural small businesses, and protects our natural resources.

Important provisions in one or both bills provide much-needed reform to farm programs, ensuring they serve the needs and interests of family-scale farmers and ranchers. Historic payment limits and “actively engaged in farming” reforms were adopted in both House and Senate with substantial bipartisan support.

The Senate and House bills cap farm payments at $250,000 and tighten loopholes that have allowed some non-farmers to game the system and evade payment limits. These provisions are nearly identical in the two bills, and they should remain in the final Farm Bill without further change or negotiation.
Our letter also urges Conference Committee members to accept the Senate’s modest reduction in crop insurance premium subsidies for millionaires, include the Senate’s Sodsaver provision that protects prime grasslands and native prairie nationwide, and reject the House provision to obliterate the farmer and rancher protections provided by the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Moreover, the Farm Bill is also the vehicle for Congress to make crucial investments in the economy of small town and rural America. The final bill should invest in our small towns, rural mainstreet businesses, and entrepreneurial farmers and ranchers.

Real federal investment in helping small towns and rural entrepreneurs has fallen by half over the last decade, despite broad support for such investment. Nearly 9 in 10 rural Americans say the rural, small town way of life is worth fighting for. But 7 in 10 worry it’s dying, according to a poll of rural voters in over 20 other Midwestern, Great Plains and Southeastern states.

You can see the specific reforms and investments in our letter to the House-Senate Conference Committee here