It’s been a long wait, but things are starting to move on the next five-year Farm Bill.
As a quick refresher, the Farm Bill, which normally is written every five years and dictates all federal spending on agricultural programs, expired last fall. Thanks to hyper-partisanship, Congress was unable to put together a successor bill all year (as you’ll recall, last year doesn’t exactly stand out as a highly productive year in Washington).
In the early hours of New Years Day, Congress eked out a temporary extension bill that cut funding to most of the programs dedicated to beginning farmers. It was a bad day for beginning farmers, but the silver lining was that it was only temporary, and the new five-year Farm Bill could reinvigorate those programs.
Well that day has arrived. We just got word that the Senate Ag Committee is going to start the mark-up process next Tuesday and the House Ag Committee will be starting on Wednesday (basically, this means that they’ll start to draft the language of the bill). This is the get-the-ball-rolling step. After this, the Ag committees will produce draft bills to go before the entire Senate and House and then the bills get reconciled with each other and get sent to the White House.
After so many months of waiting (well, waiting and pushing for progress!), it’s thrilling to know that this is starting. We realize that many of our members’ farm seasons are really picking up right now, so the timing isn’t ideal. Well that just means that we at NYFC will do everything we can to make sure you stay informed and engaged – even as the days lengthen and you have less and less time to check your emails.
We will have more information later this week on what our prospects are like and how you can get involved. Also, a huge “Thank You!” to all those who sent an email to Senators and members of Congress about the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (and if you didn’t, it’s not too late! Read more here)