The 2014 Farm Bill

The 2014 Farm Bill was signed by President Obama on Feb. 7, 2014

2014 Farm Bill Blog Series:

The Issues

Through our vision of a food and farming system rooted in respect, justice, fairness and equal opportunity for all, we at RAFI have witnessed decades of farm policies at work in the communities we serve. For this reason, we saw opportunity in the proposed Farm Bill, but also strong setbacks.

Support for Public Plant Breeding:  Improving Farmer Access to Regionally Adapted Seeds & Breeds
Farmers face diminished seed choices to meet specific farming needs. Organic farmers, for example, are now constrained by a growing lack of available organic seeds. The 2013 Farm Bill should include provisions to reinvigorate classical breeding projects that result in finished, publicly owned plant and animal varieties. An increase in classical breeding projects will increase the competitiveness of agriculture and improve food security for our growing population. Recently, more than 100 farmer organizations, scientists, educators and nonprofits wrote a letter to Congress urging senators to support the Tester Amendment, which would ensure greater research and funding for public seeds and breeds.  Learn more about the issue here.

Fair Markets for Farmers:  Protecting Farmers from Corporate Abuse
The proposed House Farm Bill includes an amendment that eliminates the GIPSA rule, which protects poultry growers from deceptive and unfair practices in their dealings with meat and poultry packers and processors. This repeal is a huge step backward. Without these protections, farmers’ contracts can be essentially terminated at will by the companies, allowing them to increase and decrease production on the backs of family farmers. Through our Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, we’ve seen how this lack of protection leaves farmers with nothing but exorbitant debt. Communities and families suffer, and corporations profit.  Farmers need stronger protections from corporate abuse by large meat packers, poultry companies and other agribusinesses.

Crop Insurance
The gap in coverage between large-scale commodities and producers of specialty crops or producers for specialty markets leaves the latter group with a significant disadvantage. The McIntyre Amendment in the proposed House bill narrows that gap, and we applaud that effort.

“On the one hand, proposals to further develop whole farm revenue insurance address the needs of diversified farmers and those who sell into higher value markets,” says RAFI Executive Director Scott Marlow. “But the transition of commodities programs into revenue insurance may serve to widen the gap and create a situation where too much risk is taken out of agriculture, disincentivizing diversification, conservation, and other production-based risk management strategies.”

Cuts to SNAP Program
Both the House and Senate version of the bill eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly known as food stamps) for more than 2 million low-income Americans. Moreover, new stipulations will essentially force rural communities in need of these benefits to choose between owning a vehicle (or their sole mode of transportation) or receiving SNAP in order to feed their families. Extensive cuts to SNAP will also undercut innovative business models that allow farmers and markets to accept EBT, such as NC farmer and TCRF grantee Jeremiah Dixon; once again, fresh food becomes inaccessible to low-income communities.


Articles, Press Releases & Action Alerts Leading up to the 2014 Farm Bill:

  • Farm Bill 2018: Important Steps Forward but Not Enough to Stop the Growing Crisis (12/22/2018) - Outlining the 2018 Farm Bill - highlighting the steps it takes forward, its deficiencies, and future work that needs to be done.
  • [CLOSED] Farm Bill Conference Committee Advocacy Series: Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Crop Insurance (8/31/2018) - The farm bill Conference Committee has the opportunity to move forward important changes to Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) crop insurance, present in both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill.
  • Farm Bill Conference Committee Advocacy Series: Lighting the LAMP for Stronger Local and Regional Food Systems (8/22/2018) - Greater support for local and regional food systems development is sorely needed to keep pace with growing consumer demand. Ask your legislator to support the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) and include it in the final version of the Farm Bill.
  • Press Release: RESPONSE TO CHAIRMAN’S MARK — Senate Agriculture Committee’s Draft Farm Bill is a Hopeful Step (6/11/2018) - The Senate Agriculture Committee released a draft of a new farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. RAFI-USA feels this version of the bill is a hopeful step in the right direction, as it funds several programs farmers depend on - however, further development is needed, as it fails to address other critical issues.
  • [CLOSED] Action Alert: Vote NO on House Farm Bill! (5/15/2018) - Call your representatives today to tell them to vote 'No' on the House Farm Bill.
  • The House’s Poison Pill Plan to Pass the Farm Bill (5/1/2018) - In order to get his version of the 2018 Farm Bill passed through the House of Representatives, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway offered a “poison pill” to House representatives: Only those who plan to vote for the Farm Bill can offer amendments, which shuts out those who don’t promise to vote with the majority.
  • Press Release: RESPONSE TO CHAIRMAN’S MARK — Rep. Conaway’s Farm Bill Fails Farmers and Communities that Need It Most (4/13/2018) - House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway's Farm Bill fails farmers and communities that need it most.
  • Protecting Loan Funding for Beginning Farmers (4/12/2018) - RAFI-USA is proud to be part of a broad coalition, representing more than 250 farm organizations and community lenders, to urge Congress to oppose across-the-board increases to Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan limits in the upcoming Farm Bill.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Wins in 2016 Federal Budget (12/17/2015) - After several budget extensions, known as a Continuing Resolution or CR, Congress has agreed on a spending bill to fund the government in 2016, avoiding another government shutdown. The big news: NO GIPSA RIDER.
  • 2014 Farm Bill Analysis: Organic Agriculture (2/24/2014) - While U.S. consumer demand for organic grows exponentially, domestic production to meet that demand has not kept up, requiring greater imports of organic production to fill the gap. The organic program funding in the new Farm Bill will help U.S. farmers and handler better meet that demand.
  • 2014 Farm Bill Analysis: GIPSA (2/14/2014) - We can cheer the fact that the Farm Bill negotiators rejected the intense pressure from poultry companies and meatpackers to roll back key protections that require them to use fair business practices in their dealings with farmers.
  • 2014 Farm Bill Analysis: Crop Insurance (2/12/2014) - After many years of hard work and patience, we can claim a victory for diversified farms in the 2014 Farm Bill. RAFI looks forward to working with producers and the USDA to further ensure a fair risk management system for sustainable agriculture.
  • RAFI Statement on Final Farm Bill Passage in U.S. House (1/30/2014) - Despite a broken process and the removal of payment limitations, which had received support in both the House and Senate version of the Farm Bill, the final bill includes positive provisions.
  • Action Alert: Stand up for Fairness in the Farm Bill! (1/10/2014) - The time to fight for the rights of our nation's independent producers against abuses by large corporations, for common sense, and for long overdue reforms to commodity subsidy programs, is right now.
  • [Action Alert] Save Organics in the 2014 Farm Bill (1/9/2014) - What's at stake here? Critical assistance for organic farmers through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. If we don't act NOW, this program could be completely defunded -- stripping farmers of a vital source of support in helping meet growing demand for organic food and to create local jobs.
  • ACTION ALERT: Tell Your Reps to Support Organic Programs in Farm Bill (9/18/2013) - The current Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of this month. We need you to urge your House representatives to sign on to a letter that will be presented to the House Agriculture Committee leadership.
  • Letter to Congress: It is Time for a Full, Fair Farm Bill (7/19/2013) - RAFI is proud to join 243 food and farm organizations throughout the country in a letter urging Congress for a full and fair Farm Bill by Sept. 30.
  • Farmers vs. Food Security: Everybody Loses in the Farm Bill (6/21/2013) - Tragically, vulnerable populations have been pitted against each other in the Farm Bill process: farmers and hungry people.
  • Farm Bill history and why it matters (6/21/2013) - Through all the talk, the untold story is that this is a fight that neither side wins. The winners are the multinational companies that have manipulated all of these programs to benefit them first, and people second. In our view, the balance is now off.
  • Farm Bill 2013: The time is now (6/20/2013) - UPDATE: House rejects Farm Bill, June 20 | Years, even decades, of work can come down to a 5-minute vote in an obscure committee. We hope that you will trust us, and our partners, that, when we ask you to take action on the Farm Bill, it is because that action is important and effective.
  • You are warriors: our hope for SNAP (6/13/2013) - "Yours is a moral voice. Be compassionate. Don't be afraid to show your heart. You are ambassadors. You are warriors."
  • Protect Livestock & Poultry Producers from Unfair Contracts (5/30/2013) - Current policies offer little to protect growers against abusive contracts. Tell your senators to support amendments that protect livestock and poultry producers from unfair and deceptive contracting practices.
  • You Have the Power to Make a Difference — Today (5/23/2013) - It's time to get it right. The time is NOW. It takes less than 5 minutes to call and voice your opinion -- and it does make a difference. The 2013 Farm Bill debate is happening right this moment. While corporate interest groups have huge budgets to pay for lobbyists in DC, we must count on people like you to call and tell your elected officials what is needed.
  • Press Release: More than 100 Groups Urge Congress to Support Tester Amendment in 2013 Farm Bill (5/22/2013) - More than 100 farm organizations, scientists, businesses and nonprofits, including Organic Seed Alliance and Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, have signed a letter urging Congress to support Senator Tester’s amendment to the Senate Farm Bill. The proposed Farm Bill currently on the Congress floor fails to direct more research dollars to classical breeding projects that would result in the benefit of publicly owned plant cultivars and animal breeds.
  • Farm Bill 2013: Where We Stand (5/17/2013) - On Monday, the Farm Bill will be brought to the Congress floor. There is no clear process, yet the issue is quickly picking up steam. Solidified amendments may be challenged and uprooted by new ones. What we do know for sure is that, as your state representatives and senators prepare to make decisions, they will be listening to their constituents. That’s you.
  • How the Farm Bill Cuts to SNAP Affect Rural Communities (5/17/2013) - As people of faith who care about our hungry neighbors, we have much to be concerned about. The proposed farm bill is slated to eliminate nearly $21 billion in SNAP benefits over the next decade, eliminating access to these benefits for almost 2 million Americans. Take action by Monday.
  • A Critical Moment for a Resilient Food System (5/16/2013) - The full Senate is taking up the Farm Bill debate today, and, right now, there is no language in the bill that protects funding for classical breeding and research that results in publicly owned varieties. If the Senate Farm Bill goes through in its current form, American farmers and researchers looking for publicly owned crop varieties will find themselves with almost no options.
  • Press Release: Farm Bill Amendment Would Gut GIPSA Rule (7/11/2012) - The Conaway-Costa Amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill, which passed the House Agriculture Committee today, guts a 2011 USDA rule that protects thousands of American poultry growers from exploitative contracts, farm groups say.




Suggested Reading

  • For an in-depth primer on the Farm Bill, we recommend “Farm Bill 101″, a publication by Food & Water Watch.  Published in January 2012, the this report describes today’s farm policies and state of farming in the US, as well as the history that brought us to where we are today.  Click here to download the report as a PDF.
  • Blog series examining how the 2014 Farm Bill impacts key structural issues related to sustainability in agriculture.
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