The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee has finally issued its draft of the 2012 Farm Bill. Despite some good provisions supporting the growing and consumption of healthy food, the Senate’s draft doesn’t level the playing field for small and midsize family farmers who produce fruits and vegetables and makes significant cuts to food stamp (SNAP) benefits for low income people. The Senate’s draft incentivizes large farms to grow a few commodity crops (primarily corn and soybeans) through a revamped crop insurance program, without taking any steps to manage the overproduction of these crops. The bill does not go nearly far enough in supporting farmers who grow healthy food for local and regional food systems.
It’s URGENT that you contact committee members TODAY about the key healthy food provisions that are still missing, because the Senate Agriculture Committee will begin work on the bill tomorrow. Write or call members of the Senate Agriculture Committee today and ask them to include the following key provisions:
Full funding for the SNAP program (food stamps) that protects against hunger and improves nutrition by providing critical resources to vulnerable people. Cuts to SNAP will only make it harder for millions of families to afford a nutritious diet.
- Better, more affordable crop insurance for organic farmers that helps reduce the increase financial risk of growing organic crops, which reduce the use of harmful chemicals that endanger human health and the environment.
- Support for Senator Leahy’s public health reporting amendment which would require USDA to report on the public health impacts of federal agricultural policies.
- Restore funding for outreach to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The funding provides assistance in successfully acquiring, owning, operating, and retaining farms and ranches and helps ensure they can equitably participate in all USDA programs. The program has been important in addressing historic discrimination against farmers of color by USDA and also supports domestic production of healthy food, as 18 to 20 percent of farms that grow vegetables, melons, fruits and tree nuts are operated by farmers of color
- Authorize schools and other service institutions to use federal program dollars to purchase food from local agricultural producers.