Coalition Report

By Melissa Vatterott,
Food and Farm Director Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Do You Eat Food? Why The Farm Bill Matters & You Should Care!

The United States doesn’t grow enough fruits and vegetables to feed every American a healthy diet based on nutrition guidelines established by the Department of Agriculture. Every five years, Congress rewrites the Farm Bill, a key piece of legislation that impacts our food, our soil and water quality, our health, and our wallets. Congress is currently drafting, debating, and voting on the 2018 Farm Bill, which will set the course for the status of our country’s food systems for the next five years.

The House of Representatives and the Senate are each working on their own version of the Farm Bill. The House version failed to get enough votes to pass in April and was highly partisan, with 30 Republicans and all Democrats voting no. The House Farm Bill eliminated the conservation stewardship program, was terrible for beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers, hurt local and regional food systems, and slashed food assistance programs for low-income Americans. It’s unknown if or when the House will try to pass their version of the Farm Bill.

The Senate is working on a bipartisan Farm Bill that is far better than the House version, yet concerns remain. The Senate version fails to make meaningful reforms to farm subsidy programs to limit economic and farm concentration. It also cuts $2.5 billion from the conservation stewardship program, which helps keep our water free from agriculture pollution, among other benefits. The good news is the Senate bill largely keeps food nutrition assistance programs funded while scaling up investments for farm-to-fork initiatives and beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmer programs, both of which MCE has strongly supported throughout the process. In all, we believe the Senate Farm Bill offers a good starting point and there’s room for improvement. That’s where you come in!

This month, you have the chance to raise your voice to both your Congressperson and your U.S. Senators for a healthy, fair, and sustainable food system from farm-to-fork.

To make sure that both chambers of Congress pass a Farm Bill that prioritizes affordability, availability, nutrition, safety, and environmental protections in our food system, visit www.moenvironment.org/farmbill2018 to take action. MCE and our allies in Missouri and throughout the country are supporting the voices of traditional American family farmers and ranchers. We’re fighting for a 2018 Farm Bill that advances the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. We hope you will join us!