This week, the House Agriculture Committee Democrats published a memo laying out the principles that they think the next farm bill should include to win the support fellow party members in the full chamber.
The high-level pieces of that memo included the push to:
- Reduce hunger: Ensuring a robust domestic food supply without providing adequate food access to hungry American families is a non-starter.
- Strengthen America’s farmers: Supporting our Nation’s farmers — including small-, midsized, and beginning farmers — means providing access to capital, technical assistance, and crop insurance, while investing in the research and local infrastructure.
- Invest in sustainable agriculture: Bolstering USDA support for conservation and climate efforts empower farmers, ranchers, and foresters to adopt practices that are good for the environment and their bottom line.
- Revitalize rural America: Create opportunity in rural communities.
Since the memo’s release, stakeholders have weighed in.
“The HEAL Food Alliance is pleased to see the House Democrats affirm their commitment to passing a strong and effective Farm Bill. We’re glad to see a principled commitment to investing in sustainable agriculture, reducing hunger, and improving equity,” the alliance wrote.
Recent polling showed that majorities as large as 87 percent in Michigan and Pennsylvania and 80 percent nationally expressed support for more and better workplace protections for essential workers in the farming and food industries. That support holds regardless of whether respondents were Republicans (83 percent) or Democrats (91 percent), rural (87 percent), urban (85 percent), or suburban (85 percent).
“However, in many ways, the Farm Bill is again shaping up to be business as usual. Since its inception, the Farm Bill has excluded people who work in our food and farm system from consideration in policy making. Without their inclusion, the 2024 Farm Bill risks once again benefitting a handful of powerful agriculture corporations who are using their power to roll back labor regulations at the expense of working people,” the HEAL Food Alliance wrote.
Polling also shows that voters support investments that help farmers protect water quality and keep more carbon and nutrients in their soil. Majorities of voters in each state — as many as 68 percent in Michigan — and 66 percent of voters with a farmer in the house said water pollution caused by agricultural runoff threatens their state.
To address climate issues, the HEAL Food Alliance says that the Farm Bill must dedicate funding support for proven climate solutions, including regenerative agriculture, agroecology, and Indigenous food production methods. These approaches help restore soil, water, air, and biodiversity, as well as increase carbon sequestration.
At the same time, the group said it must provide climate and other protections for working people who are vulnerable to heat stress, wildfires, flooding, and the whims of their employers.
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Author: Heidi Crnkovic