The 2018 Farm Bill


The 2018 Farm Bill Is Now Law. But the Shenanigans Continue…

, director, Food & Environment Program

Today, President Trump signs the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (the “farm bill”) into law. Over the past year, our allies and supporters called their elected officials, signed petitions, wrote letters to the editor and organized their communities—doing everything possible to impress upon Congress the importance of legislation that supports the nation’s farmers, and the food insecure, in an equitable and responsible way. It is time for a quick inventory of achievements and the work yet ahead, though there isn’t much time for us, or our supporters and allies, to catch our breath.

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Navy-veteran Lenny Evans Miles, Jr. operates Bluestem Farms LLC, in Chestertown, MD. USDA Photo by Preston Keres

On Veterans Day, Why Aren’t Congress and the USDA Looking Out for Those Who Served?

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

This Veterans Day is particularly significant, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Though US veterans from that long-ago war are gone, some 20 million of their brethren are with us today. Our culture honors them at sporting events and other public venues, but we also have an ugly history of mistreating those who served—from returning Vietnam vets being spat upon to mismanaged healthcare programs and corruption at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And right now, misguided decisions by the Secretary of Agriculture and members of Congress threaten to reverse progress for service members and veterans who want to work the land and feed their neighbors. Read more >

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Photo: IIP Photo Archive/Flickr

With The Farm Bill Expired, Will Science Stall?

, senior scientist

All the stranded programs together account for only $2.8 billion of the nearly $1 trillion farm bill. But they provide significant value, and none less than the research and education programs now in budgetary limbo. In this post, I’ll focus on the three such programs: Organic Agriculture Research and Extension, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Depending on how long Congress leaves these programs hanging before passing a new farm bill, important agricultural research and extension, and the field of agroecology, could suffer. Read more >

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Photo: Sustainable Food Center

Lapsed Farm Bill Hurts Central Texas Farmers and Low-income Families

, Food Systems & Health Analyst

When you think of Texas, a thriving local food scene probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind—but a visit to the SFC Farmers’ Market in downtown Austin might change that. The market draws large crowds every Saturday, and it plays a vitally important role in this city: linking small and midsize farmers across central Texas with customers—including those who shop using benefits from federal nutrition assistance programs—who are hungry for fresh produce and a sense of community. But far from Austin, the federal law that gives markets like this one a leg up are in limbo. Read more >

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What Happens in the Next 26 Days Could Change Our Food and Farm Future

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

It feels like I’ve been thinking about the 2018 farm bill forever, but we may have finally reached the beginning of the end. Tomorrow, an unusually large group of 56 (!) negotiators from the House and Senate are expected to shoehorn themselves into a room on Capitol Hill to begin the formal process of reconciling two very different visions of our food and farm system.

What happens next will either help small and midsize farmers thrive, put more healthy food on the dinner tables of our most vulnerable neighbors, and invest in farming practices that prevent water pollution and build healthy soil for the future…or not. There’s also an unfortunate third option, in which the farm bill process fails completely, leaving farmers and eaters in limbo. Read more >

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