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The Farm Bill Unveiled: Empowering Communities and Ensuring Food Security

Developed by MDC Rural Forward 

What is the Farm Bill? 

The Farm Bill is wide-ranging federal legislation allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement vital programs with stakeholders nationwide to address agriculture and food issues. The Farm Bill is anticipated to guide about $1.51 trillion and is renewed every five years. This year, Congress is drafting legislation to renew the bill from 2023 to 2028. This means that important changes related to the southeast region’s food and farm systems are underway.  

Who Should Care? 

The Farm Bill affects everyone, not just farmers. If you eat food in the United States, the Farm Bill has impacted your life in some shape or form. Priority stakeholders include: 

  • Low-income households: Title IV provides nutrition assistance programs for food-insecure individuals through programs such as SNAP. 
  • Farmers: Assistance for farmers throughout the U.S. are supported through programs in conservation, energy, horticulture, crop insurance, and commodities.   
  • Rural Communities: Title VI of the Farm Bill focuses on rural development. This section works to provide support in areas such as health outcomes, economic development, broadband investments, rural housing, and other programs.  
  • Environmental Advocates: The Farm Bill has programs concentrated on conservation and renewable energy/energy efficient programs and incentives.  

Farm Bill Programs that Impact the Southeast 

  • Nutrition 
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This program has consistently been significantly expanded over the years. SNAP provides food assistance to low-income families to help afford nutritious food. Farmers and retailers can also apply to accept SNAP payments. 
    • Eligibility and FAQs are linked here 
  • Assistance for Farmers 
    • Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC): Congress has been expanding funding for agricultural loss, disaster assistance, and support for major commodity crops.  
    • Application and information are linked here  
  • Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP): Crop insurance was expanded by Congress in 2018, the program is designed to ensure economic stability for agriculture.  
    • The application process and information are linked here 
  • Rural Communities 
    • Community Connect Grants: This program is designed to provide financial assistance for eligible communities in an effort to improve broadband.  
    • More information and eligibility can be found here 
  • Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program: This program offers grants to eligible applicants to help support workforce development and business incubation. 
    • More information can be found here 
  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Loans and Grants: For those in rural communities, this program is intended to help find agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems to enhance energy efficiency.  
    • The application portal and more information can be found here 

 There is Still Time to Get Involved! 

The Farm Bill has been in committee over the past few months. The entire month of September will be devoted to the new amendments and language to the Farm Bill. Congress will be voting on the whole bill when markups are complete in late September or early October. 

How to Get Involved  

  • Connect with local leaders and elected officials to learn more about their positions on the Farm Bill and express your needs as a constituent.  
    • These North Carolina representatives have key roles on the Farm Bill Committee: David Rouzer, Alma Adams, and Don Davis.  
    • Find your congress member here 
  • There is still time to reach out and advocate for specific language or amendments in the bill. Many constituents have been calling and emailing to discuss SNAP and welfare programs.  
  • Reach out to the Farm Bill Committee on ideas, proposals, and feedback about the 2018 Farm Bill by emailing FarmBill2023@ag.senate.gov or through this form 
  • Get involved with Carolina Farm Stewards Association (CFSA) by: 
    • Becoming a member of CFSA advocacy here! 
    • There are limited-income memberships available as well. 
    • Email CFSA to help plan for direct advocacy and interaction with lawmakers at jaylen@carolinafarmstewards.org  
  • For local elected leaders interested in public action, connect with the National League of Cities. 
  • NLC priorities for the upcoming deadline can be referenced here 

To Learn More: 

  • Subscribe to CFSA’s policy news here for monthly e-news and alerts here 
  • Watch this Farm Bill 101 Webinar provided by the Wallace Center and National Agriculture Coalition 
  • News from the House Committee on Agriculture can be found here 

View PDF version: here.

 

 

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