From the National SVDP… By a vote of 64-35, the U.S. Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (Farm Bill S.3240). Thank you to all Vincentians, our friends and supporters who called, emailed, sent letters or visited their senators, urging them to pass a fair Farm Bill that promotes human dignity and fosters stewardship of creation. Now on to the House!
WHAT’S IN THE SENATE VERSION OF THE FARM BILL?
Here are some of the results your advocacy helped achieve:
- Domestic Hunger and Nutrition: Cuts to domestic hunger and nutrition programs could have been more severe, but the Senate rejected deeper cuts and chose to maintain the strong structure of important domestic hunger programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly Food Stamps) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program(TEFAP).
- International Food Security and Development: The Food for Peace program to combat chronic hunger, build resilience against drought and other natural disasters and provide needed nutrition for poor families abroad was reauthorized.
- Conservation: Conservation programs were targeted for significant reductions in the amendment process, including an attempt to end theConservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program. The amendment was rejected. An amendment was adopted that requires those receiving crop insurance subsidy payments to comply with conservation practices to protect soil and wetlands.
- Rural Development: There were positive developments in the Farm Bill to support programs to help rural communities thrive. An amendment provided $35 million to help new farmers, $50 million over five years for the Value-Added Producer Grants and funds the Rural Microentrepeneur Assistance Program to help start new, small, rural businesses. In addition, another amendment was adopted, to promote expansion of broadband in rural communities.
- Subsidies/Crop Insurance: There were positive and unprecedented reforms to agriculture subsidies. For the first time, the Senate ended some significant subsidies by eliminating direct payments that have been provided to farmers and farm owners even if they did not grow crops. However, the Senate expanded subsidized crop insurance in a way that continues to benefit mostly large, agri-businesses over smaller farmers in need. An adopted amendment reduces the premium subsidy for crop insurance for farmers with an annual adjusted gross income greater than $750,000 per year, which is an important first step.
With the passage of the Senate Farm Bill completed, attention now shifts to the House, which will begin work in Committee and possibly bring the bill to the floor in July.
In the coming weeks, we will ask you to raise your voices and join with us to remind the House that our nation’s agriculture priorities must help those we serve by promoting a Farm Bill that feeds hungry, poor and vulnerable people, and promotes stewardship of creation.
Again, we thank you for your dedication, hard work and advocacy.