But, will it make it to the floor, before the current bill expires on September 30th?
The House version of the Farm Bill passed out of Committee 35-11 on July 12, and is now waiting for House leadership to schedule a floor vote. If the House passes that version, it will then go into conference, where House and Senate negotiators will produce a combined bill. However, the goal of getting this all done by the current bill’s September 30th expiration is ambitious, given the political climate these days. If no bill comes forward, a continuation of the current Farm Bill is possible.
Some members tried to prevent $16.5 billion in cuts to the Nutrition Title over the next ten years (mostly in the form of SNAP cuts – see previous post), but the attempts were defeated.
Farm to School
An amendment giving more flexibility in procurement and more control to states, introduced by Pingree (D-ME), Ellmers (R-NC) and Gibson (R-NY) passed. The amendment mandates a 10-school pilot, to test out alternative procurement models to the current USDA commodity program.
CSA Purchasing with SNAP
Pingree also introduced two other notable amendments that passed. One will allow SNAP participants to purchase CSA shares as part of their benefits, while the other relates to the USDA serving small meat processors better.
Crop Insurance for Organic Farmers
Peter Welch’s (D-VT) amendment to extend ’08 Farm Bill language that deals with the discrepancy between organic crop insurance premiums and pay outs. This is important because without it, organic farmers pay a higher premium, even though they are paid at the the same rate as conventional farmers.
SNAP and Farmers Markets
Another amendment that passed, brought in by Johnson (R-IL), sets aside $5 million of $15 million community food grant funds to encourage SNAP recipients to purchase food at farmers markets.
In total, the Farmers Market Promotion Program was expanded and renamed the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, in the committee’s version of the bill. This shift was brought about by the Pingree-sponsored Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act.
The waiting game…
Now it is up to the House to bring the bill to the floor. Considering Congress’s upcoming August recess, it is hard to say if anything will move. Nonetheless, there is a lot of pressure on the House to continue with the process in a timely manner, in order to get the Farm Bill passed before its September 30 deadline.
Now is the time to let your Congressional Representative know how you feel.