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What top food and ag leaders want from the next farm bill
“Our message is very simple: Feed hungry people, help our farmers meet the challenge of climate change, and support our food and farm workers,” one stakeholder said.
Farm bill countdown: Funding the government isn’t the only task Congress is responsible for completing by September 30.
Lawmakers must also pass an updated farm bill, the primary food and agriculture act that prevents critical programs like nutrition assistance from expiring.
As the deadline draws near, advocacy groups are lobbying farm bill leaders in both chambers in an effort to clinch several of their priorities in the final bill.
The demands fall into three categories: SNAP accessibility, climate action, and worker protection.
And the groups say there’s little appetite to sacrifice one without the others.
“There’s no wiggle room because if we don’t deliver, we’re putting families, farmers, ranchers across the country in a precarious position,” Mike Lavender, policy director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, said to Supercreator Daily. “Congress should be doing everything it can to invest in our rural and urban farmers, so that they can create a better livelihood for their communities.”
Rachel Lyons, legislative director for the United Food and Commercial Workers, told Supercreator Daily that the issues are too interconnected to be separated.
“For us and from the point of view of a worker in the food supply chain, all of this is necessary to supporting each other and that a farm bill needs to think creatively and transformationally about how to help everybody,” Lyons said. “It’s not one or the other. It’s all together.”
SNAP to it • Luis Guardia, president of the Food and Research Action Center, called SNAP, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the most effective government program for reducing food insecurity, health-care costs while also improving economic stability and dietary intake.
“The farm bill is the key opportunity for us to strengthen and protect SNAP, our nation’s first line of defense against hunger,” he said.
The agreement President Joe Biden reached with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in May to raise the debt limit added SNAP work requirements for childless people under 54 and limited the number of months they can receive benefits within a defined period.
But veterans, unhoused people, and people transitioning out of foster care are exempt from the work requirements, which could result in an expansion of SNAP. House conservatives have indicated their desire for deeper cuts to the program, which, of course, Democrats would strongly oppose.
“My defense of SNAP is as unambiguous as it is unwavering,” Rep. David Scott (D-Ga), ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, said in a statement this week. “Continued attempts by extreme Republicans to take food away from hungry children, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities will not stand.”
Guardia proposed SNAP reforms like linking benefits to more realistic food plans, ending time limits for under and unemployed Americans, repealing the ban on people with a drug felony, dropping extra work requirements for full-time college students, eliminating policies that disproportionately harm immigrants, and ending the prohibition on hot prepared foods.
“There’s no excuses for hunger when solutions exist,” he said. “Hungry people can’t wait.”
Hands off the IRA • What also can’t wait, according to advocates? A robust response to the climate crisis.
Matthew Kaplan, a senior National Resources Defense Council attorney, said the farm bill must protect the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate provisions.
“Our nation made a once-in-a-generation commitment in the Inflation Reduction Act and must follow through if we stand a chance to turn the corner on the global crises we face,” he said. “In order to do so, we must enable and empower farmers to fight climate change, adapt to a new climate era, and manage the increasingly frequent climate disasters.”
UFCW’s Lyons focus is on ensuring the farm bill also includes provisions to ensure that our communities are fed during future disasters, like the heat waves and floods the US is experiencing.
Giving workers a voice • Melissa Kaplan of the Union of Concerned Scientists said the farm must prioritize the safety of food chain workers.
This includes increasing federal funding for safety and oversight for workers and providing and improving worker protections from exposure to harmful working conditions, including things like extreme heat, wildfire, smoke, and pesticides.
Karen Ehrens, a registered dietician nutritionist and director of legislative and governmental affairs for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said the farm bill should also include policies and programs that ensure the next generation of farmers, including those from communities who have been historically disadvantaged, have access to land, skills, and incentives to grow healthful foods and promote health equity.
Meat and poultry slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness, and sometimes death. So Lyons said UFCW is seeking language in the farm bill that ties meat processing line speed to worker safety and food safety.
Additionally, since the federal government is a significant purchaser of meat, poultry, and other processed foods, Lyons said UFCW members support using federal purchasing power to guarantee the federal government only buys food from high-road companies that respect workers, pay a living wage, provide a safe workplace, and treat their workers with dignity.
“The farm bill’s impact on workers is wide-ranging and not limited to any one title,” Lyons said. “But a worker-friendly farm bill will contribute to a more sustainable, healthy and resilient food supply chain, which is one fo the ultimate goals of the farm bill.”
Extension on the horizon? • The House will be preoccupied with passing the remaining 11 funding bills and investigating President Biden, his family, and his administration after the recess.
And across the Capitol, the Senate will have to pass its own funding bills and confirm several nominees to key senior posts at the Federal Reserve at a time when the central bank is still working to tamp inflation.
That leaves scant floor time for other legislative priorities, including the farm bill and an aviation reauthorization bill that also lapses at the end of September. And neither party in the House or Senate has released a draft of the legislation or scheduled a markup.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, doesn’t seem too stressed about it though. Recently, she indicated that lawmakers could pass a short-term extension of the current farm bill to give them more time to agree to a new version.
The stakeholders Supercreator Daily heard from said that while it’s unlikely a farm bill passes by the end of September, they expect that there will be one signed into law this year.
Spokespeople for the Democratic and Republican sides of the Senate Agriculture Committee did not respond to requests for comment from Supercreator Daily. House Agriculture Democrats did not respond to a request for comment as well.
Ben Goldy, a spokesperson for the House Agriculture Republican majority, led by Rep. GT Thompson (R-Pa.), said in a statement to Supercreator Daily that the committee has shifted from hearings and listening sessions to analysis and drafting bill text.
“It is Chairman Thompson’s goal to get an effective farm bill over the finish line as soon as practical,” Goldy added.
No farm bill > bad farm bill • The prevailing message from advocates is that they’d rather see a quality bipartisan work product from Congress whenever it’s ready versus one that simply meets the deadline.
“No farm bill is better than a bad farm bill,” Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, said. “So House leaders, our message is very simple: Feed hungry people, help our farmers meet the challenge of climate change, and support our food and farm workers.”
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The Capitol Police is still investigating a false report on Wednesday of an active on Capitol grounds. The incident forced staff and press to shelter in place while law enforcement conducted a 90-minute search of the Senate office buildings near the complex.
The State Department ordered non-emergency US personnel and eligible family members to evacuate Niger after the military seized power from Niger’s democratically elected president. The department also issued an updated advisory warning US citizens not to travel to Niger. Meanwhile, President Biden issued a statement to mark the anniversary of Niger’s independence: “In this critical moment, the United States stands with the people of Niger to honor our decades-long partnership rooted in shared democratic values and support for civilian-led governance,” Biden said. “The Nigerien people have the right to choose their leaders. They have expressed their will through free and fair elections — and that must be respected.”
Reps. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) and Mario Díaz-Balart will be joined by seven House colleagues on Friday to tour Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the deadliest high school shooting in US history. Moskowitz and Díaz-Balart extended the invitation to all House members last week as an opportunity to discuss school safety and security. Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Fla.), Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.), John Rutherford (R-Fla.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) accepted the invitation.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number-two Senate Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee responded to Justice Samuel Alito’s criticism of his panel’s proposed Supreme Court ethics reform legislation. “Justice Alito is providing speculative public commentary on a bill that is still going through the legislative process,” Durbin said in a statement. “Let’s be clear: Justice Alito is not the 101st member of the United States Senate. His intervention in Article I activity is unwise and unwelcome.”
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ON THE FLOOR
The House is out.
The Senate is out.
‘ROUND THE CAPITOL
The mass hysteria blocks away at a federal courthouse surrounding yet another Trump arraignment.
President Biden is in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and has no public events on his schedule.
10:05 a.m. Vice President Harris will leave Washington, DC to travel to Milwaukee, arriving at 12:25 p.m.
1:50 p.m. The vice president will receive a tour of a manufacturing and logistics facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin that has benefited from the administration’s investments in high-speed internet infrastructure.
2:20 p.m. Vice President Harris, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) will speak about high-speed internet, domestic manufacturing, and jobs.
5:20 p.m. The vice president will speak at a campaign fundraiser in Milwaukee.
6:25 p.m. Vice President Harris will leave Milwaukee and arrive back in DC at 8:05 p.m.
All times Eastern
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