September 17, 2013
CFJC put out a Farm Bill update last week as Congress returned to DC from their 5-week recess (see post below). Since last week, The House has made moves on their proposed $40 billion cuts to SNAP. The Rules Committee will consider the House Nutrition Bill, H.R. 3102–Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013, Wednesday evening. The bill will likely be brought to the House floor shortly thereafter, however until reviewed by the Rules, we are unsure if there will be time for debate or amendments.
The anti-hunger community is calling for a national call-in day today to oppose the proposed cuts to SNAP, view the action alert put out by the California Association of Food Banks today.
Some of our Democratic Representatives have a few things to say about the proposed cuts as well. Representative Barbara Lee is working to raise awareness about the bill and its devastating cuts and has released a flyer calling for action to protect SNAP.
Additionally, the House Committee on Agriculture Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson released the following quote today: “Instead of appointing farm bill conferees, the Republican Leadership has decided to move forward with an unnecessary and divisive nutrition bill. Even if this bill is defeated, as it should be, I worry the debate will eliminate any remaining goodwill needed to pass a farm bill.”
September 12, 2013
Jessy Gill, Policy Specialist
Congress returned to Washington this week with the laundry list of critical policies they left behind, and an ever-growing debate on Syria to address. Congressional discussions on Syria were expected to occupy their first week back in DC, but due to international negotiations scheduled to go on today, President Obama has asked that Congress put their vote on hold indefinitely. This will likely cause Congressional talks to spill over into next week, further delaying discussion and movement on other legislative issues waiting in the wings, including the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill has been awaiting serious Congressional consideration for two years now. Last year, the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization process was delayed, negotiated behind closed doors, allowed to expire, and ultimately extended as we moved into 2013. And now we seem to have followed the same course of action, driving the Farm Bill to a likely expiration. Over the course of the last year, our not-so-level playing field has been further eroded, leaving many of programs critical to the development of a sustainable, local, and equitable food system high and dry.
As Congress left the Hill before August, the Senate had passed their version of the Farm Bill, and the House had split their version of the Farm Bill, passing through a “farm only” bill, leaving the nutrition title for their return in September. In preparation for the House nutrition debate, House Majority Leader Cantor (R-VA) formed a special food stamp working group who put together a plan with a proposed $40 billion in SNAP cuts, double what the House Agriculture committee proposed. Other than continuing the discussion through meetings with constituents, panel discussions, and public statements over the 5 week summer recess, very little positive movement was made, returning to Congress with the Farm Bill the same way they left it.
The likely next steps for the Farm Bill are not clear, largely because the Farm Bill is not the only policy in play. In addition to the Syria vote, Congress must address issues such as Immigration reform, the debt ceiling, and imminent government shutdown (again). Congress is expected to deal with this situation in the same manner they did last year; through a short-term Continuing Resolution, continuing current government funding, and postponing the impending deadline.
Now that Congress has seen they can get away with creating more time for themselves, we are hearing from our partners on the Hill that the probable next steps are an expiration of the current extended 2008 Farm Bill, preceded by portions of the bill being attached to other pending “must pass” pieces of legislation such as those listed above, actions similar to last year’s course.
Although we cannot determine a clear course of action, we can deliver a clear message. Now more than ever, we need and can benefit from a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. We believe that making sure people can feed their families while supporting our farmers is of utmost importance. A Full and Fair Farm Bill is the only reasonable step forward to secure an equitable food system for all.
We encourage you to join us in the #FairFarmBill campaign and stir up a social media storm for the rest of the month. To read more on the campaign, see our most recent action alert.
We also urge you to have your organization(s) sign on onto a statement on the Farm Bill, prepared and circulated by the signatories who regularly participate in the GOAT Process, which promotes a fair farm bill with equity and sustainability. The statement already has over 370 organizational signers from urban to rural, grassroots to policy-based groups, and we will continue to collect signers until our message is heard.