Thirty-nine agricultural organizations have joined forces in an effort to raise public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a 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 farm bill this year.
Though the U.S. Senate passed their version of a farm bill in June, the U.S. House of Representatives did not come to a final agreement on their version, which was passed by the House Agriculture Committee just before August recess. In lieu of a farm bill and in response to drought conditions, the House passed disaster legislation that was met with some controversy among groups and individuals pushing for a full 5-year farm bill.
Coming together to call for passage of a final farm bill, the newly formed coalition has authored a document called "Why We Need a Farm Bill," which outlines their position on the farm bill issue. The groups wrote:
"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.