Senate Floor Moves Forward, Fight for a Fair Full Farm Bill

Raise your Voice on the Senate Floor

The Community Food and Justice Coalition (CFJC) supports the work of our partners on the ground in the districts, as well as those in Washington DC to push for a fair, comprehensive Farm Bill as Congress continues through the most unpredictable reauthorization process to date.

Senators have put together over 150 amendments for the Farm Bill, 13 of which have been brought to the floor for action. The Senate has gone to recess for the week, which means they are in their districts. Now is a critical time for you to help prepare your Senators for their votes next week, and speak on behalf of yourself and your community.

CFJC prioritizes amendments that support equitable programs highlighted in The Rural Equity and Access Act of 2013, a marker bill put together by GOAT Participants and spearheaded by close partner the Rural Coalition.

CFJC urges you, our membership, to call your Senators and take a stand on the following amendments:

CFJC SUPPORTS:

  • Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Producer Training (Amendment # 1055)– Udall (NM); Heinrich (NM)  

The Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Rancher (also known as the 2501 Program) is a historic program that provides competitive grants to educational institutions, Extension, and community-based organizations to assist African-American, American-Indian, Asian-American and Latino farmers and ranchers in owning and operating farms and participating in USDA programs. The committee-passed bill expands program eligibility requirements to include veteran farmers and ranchers and funds this program at $10 million annually, about half of previous funding. The amendment would restore funding of $17 million annually in order to serve both the traditional and new producers now eligible for the program.

Read more background on the  2501 Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (Link to 2501 Program Brief)

  • To Encourage Food And Agriculture Market Development, Entrepreneurship, And Education (Amendment #1088)- Brown (OH); Tester (MT); Heinrich (NM); Schatz (HI); Gillibrand (NY); Reed(RI); Wyden (OR); Cowan (MA) 

This comprehensive amendment provides much-needed funding and a few important technical policy changes to a handful of key programs that support development of a more resilient food system.  These changes and the funding the amendment provides make strides towards aligning our agriculture, health, and economic policy in ways that ensure farmers get a fair price for their product, all Americans have access to affordable, healthy food, and that both contribute to strong communities and a thriving economy.

The amendment increases mandatory funding in the Community Food Program from $5 million to $10 million per year, in the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program to $15 million in mandatory funding over the life of the farm bill, and in the Value-Added Producer Grants Program from $12.5 million to $20 million per year, in the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program from $20 million to $30 million per year and in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program from $20.6 million to $23.1 million in FY2014 and to $25.6 million per year in FY2015 – FY2018. In the Business and Industry Loan Program it modifies the existing set-aside for loans for local food enterprises to eliminate a burdensome third party labeling requirement, to clarify that project priorities include creating new market opportunities for farmers, increasing good food access in underserved communities, and supporting comprehensive regional economic development strategies, and to provide flexibility for USDA to reduce barriers to participation.

CFJC OPPOSES:

  • Cuts to SNAP Education (Amendment #991)- Thune (SD) 

Would cut SNAP Nutrition Education by $2.1 billion by reducing state’s funding to $5 per SNAP participant. This amendment threatens to cut millions of families off from education programs that are helping them make healthier food choices. By slashing the program nearly in half, this national program proven to reduce hunger, improve diets, and reduce obesity, would be devastated.

  • Eligibility Disqualifications for Certain Convicted Felons (Amendment #1056)- Vitter (LA)

This amendment has already been adopted and will ban anyone who ever committed a violent felony from receiving SNAP (food stamps). Furthermore, it will require all individuals applying to SNAP to submit a written statement that they have never committed one of the specified felonies, and that the income of the ineligible person applying for SNAP will be counted along with the income of all others in the house (although their income is counted, they as a person are not), resulting in less SNAP dollars going back to the hungry families and children of those convicted of a violent felony. SNAP is intended to benefit anyone who needs it, and CFJC believes everyone has a right to the access of healthy food. Many convicted felons who have already paid their debt to society depend on SNAP dollars to survive. These individuals are the least likely to get jobs upon leaving prison, and now they will be forced into further desperation.

The Vitter amendment has already been passed into the Farm Bill by unanimous consent. Your call would be to specifically request your Senator to stand in opposition to the Vitter amendment, and ask that Chairwoman Stabenow request it be deleted in a managers amendment. Another option is to request your Senator author or support the authorship of an amendment to strike the Vitter amendment from the Farm Bill.

What can you do? 

1. Call the Capitol Switchboard at: 202-224-3121, tell them your State and ask them for your Senators’ Office, speak to their Agriculture Legislative Assistants, and ask for their emails address. Use the descriptions above for talking points. Also, be sure to thank them for listening and for taking action.

2. We encourage you to send your Senators the most recent collaborative GOAT letter urging the need for a fair Farm Bill, and highlighting specific amendments that would push an equitable bill forward.

3. Follow @comfoodjustice@RuralCo@hfhpcoalition@sustainableag on Twitter throughout the Farm Bill process to get to-the-minute updates on Congress’ progress toward a fair Farm Bill.

4. Participate in the Farm Bill Twitter Storm by using hashtags: #FairFarmBill and #FarmBill

5. Find your Senators and Tweet them directly. We’ve made it easy with a few suggestions:

(@Senator), support nation’s historically underserved producers & support @SenatorTomUdall‘s #1055. #FairFarmBill

(@Senator), vote for a #FairFarmBill that fully protects #SNAP and #SNAPEd. Hunger is a voting issue to me.

(@Senator), support amdmt #1088 for a more resilient #foodsystem. #FarmBill #FairFarmBill

(@Senator), Sen. Vitter’s amdmt #1056 punishes the #hungry. A #FairFarmBill doesn’t take #food off people’s plates.

(@Senator) I will stay informed on how you address #hunger in the U.S. #Hunger and a #FairFarmBill are voting issues to me.

(@Senator), as a #constituent & #voter I want a #FairFarmBill.  Support amdmt #1088 & #1055.

(@Senator), support amdmt #1088 & #1055 for a #FairFarmBill. An equitable #foodsystem is a priority.

Please, take action today, and thank you for raising your voice for equity in the Farm Bill.

~ CFJC Team

Please consider: this is why we need your donation to our Advocacy Fund. Your donation supports advocacy efforts for equity in food, farm, and climate change policy. Thank you for your support.

 

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CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we collaborate with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply. We envision a food system in which all activities, from farm to table, are equitable, healthful, regenerative and community-driven.

If you believe in these principles JOIN CFJC NOW.

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