(NAFB)--More than 250 organizations have sent a letter to members and leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to advocate passage of a five-year farm bill as soon as possible. The letter stresses that the farm bill supports the nation’s farmers, ranchers, forest owners, food security, natural resources and wildlife habitats, rural communities and the 16-million Americans whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry. The groups are urging Congress to move forward on a unified farm bill that preserves a five-year authorization for all programs - while continuing the partnership between the nutrition and farm communities. The letter cautions against ending provisions that would reinstate permanent farm law from last century - stating that the threat of reinstatement of the long-outdated policies have served as strong motivation for Congress to enact new farm bills for decades. Repealing the 1938 and 1949 acts and making the 2013 farm bill commodity title permanent law - the letter continues - could make it difficult to generate sufficient political pressure to adjust the commodity safety net provisions should conditions in production agriculture change.
Another concern for the groups - if Title I of the 2013 farm bill is made permanent - is that other farm and rural programs covered in other titles would risk not being reauthorized if the bill expires after five years. The groups point out that programs covering conservation, forestry, research, energy, rural development, trade and more could be left to the will of the appropriations process - likely with limited funding and little opportunity to update or adjust to meet changing needs in agriculture and rural communities. They say a farm bill without a meaningful nutrition title will also make it difficult for the House and Senate to reach a bipartisan agreement on a final version that can be signed by the president.
The letter was signed by organizations representing farmers and ranchers, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy, trade and crop insurance companies.