A coalition of 39 of the nation's foremost agricultural organizations in an effort to raise public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire in September.
The coalition, called Farm Bill Now, comprises associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and biobased product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups, as well as the nation's two largest farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union. Each organization has strong and distinct policy priorities, yet all 39 are committed to passing a new, comprehensive bill this year.
Today, the group issues the following statement, titled "Why We Need a Farm Bill", on the importance of new farm legislation for America's farmers:
"Calling the farm bill the 'farm bill' suggests its impact is limited only to farms and to the rural areas to which they are so closely tied. It's really a jobs bill. A food bill. A conservation bill. A research bill. An energy bill. A trade bill. In other words, it's a bill that affects every American.
"The farm bill affects our nation's ability to provide the necessities of life for a global population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050. Here at home, it affects an industry that provides 23 million—or 1 in every 12—American jobs.
"The farm bill has broad impact on our citizens and our economy. It provides healthy foods to millions of schoolchildren and nutritious options to families in need. It develops and expands trade with valuable foreign markets. By reducing spending significantly compared to prior farm bills, the proposals pending right now in Congress address the need to get our nation's fiscal house in order.
"And yes, it benefits American farms—98 percent of which are owned and operated by families. It helps big farms and small farms, major crops and specialty crops, organic farmers and conventional farmers, cattle ranchers and cotton ginners, farmers markets and national suppliers, and the vast range of other pursuits that make up American agriculture. This year, it would help farmers tackle the challenges posed by the worst drought in a generation.
"While Congress waits to finish the farm bill, we are united in asking all Americans to encourage legislators—home for summer town hall meetings and speeches—to finish this vital legislation before the current farm and food law expires in September. After all, it's your bill too."
In addition to today's statement, Farm Bill Now launched an interactive web portal at www.FarmBillNow.com, through which visitors to the site can connect to their members of Congress and show their support for a new five-year farm bill. Using messages to Congress via social media, event locations and times, and an online petition, FarmBillNow.com gives both farmers and consumers the resources they need to make their voices heard, telling Congress that the farm bill needs to be completed before the current farm food law expires in September.