The U.S. Senate is negotiating the 2018 Farm Bill – the massive piece of legislation that shapes our food and farming system every four years. As our country’s family farmers, especially farmers of color, are experiencing a crisis right now, it’s crucial that they pass a farm bill that defends and strengthens programs that fight hunger, supports family farmers and farmers of color, and cares for the environment. Our supporters sent messages to their Senators to pass a farm bill that supports family farmers, protects the environment and helps farmers of color stay on their land.
Letter to Senators
Dear [Name of Senator],
I am writing to you to encourage you to work for a fair and equitable Farm Bill that supports farmers, eaters, communities, and the environment. With the House failing to pass an extreme and controversial version of the Farm Bill, the Senate’s role to find solutions to the current farm crisis and protect food assistance, sustainable agriculture, and family farming is critical.
The Farm Bill includes critical food assistance programs. I urge you to:
- Maintain funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and ensure that no family will lose their SNAP benefits.
- Support reforms to international food aid programs like Food for Peace to source food aid locally and support farmers in other countries.
Farmers in the U.S. are in crisis due to excessive agribusiness control and concentration, and they need government intervention to ensure they receive fair prices from the industry. The Farm Bill must:
- Provide farmers, particularly dairy farmers, with a price floor so that agribusiness companies pay them a fair price, resolving the farm crisis that is driving broken policies like biofuels mandates.
- Protect funding for conservation programs and technical assistance so that farmers can steward our natural resources and keep family farmers in business.
- Cap government payments to the largest farms and to factory livestock operations, particularly through the EQIP program.
Rural communities face many profound social crises as well, and the Farm Bill is critical to provide equity and fairness to farmers of color in rural communities and to ensure that new and beginning farmers can access the land and resources they need. I urge you to:
- Support and endorse the Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Act of 2018 (S. 2839), which extends and strengthens the historic Outreach to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program which is critical to so many farmers.
- Allow producers farming on land where owners passed away without leaving a will or assigning an executor – “heirs’ property” – to secure access to USDA programs, which would allow many more farm operators to participate in farm and conservation programs and pass on their land to new generations.
- Support and endorse the Next Generation in Agriculture Act (S. 2762), which permanently reauthorizes and strengthens the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to improve delivery and outreach to young and beginning farmers.
- Ensure that USDA farm loan programs continue to serve diverse small and mid-scale farms and provide a safety net for all farmers.
The food and agriculture system is in crisis right now, and the Senate has an opportunity to pass a Farm Bill that can make a difference right now and into the future. Please defend programs that end hunger, protect the environment, and support family farmers.