House Agriculture Committee Passes Partisan Farm Bill

On April 18th, OFRF Policy Associate Michael Stein attended the House Agriculture Committee’s hearing on the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill passed (26-20) along straight party lines and is on its way to the floor of the House of Representatives. 

Discussions started off with a deep division between Republicans and Democrats. “As a member of this committee, I watched with dismay as the bipartisanship of the Agriculture Committee broke down in the House process on the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, despite the best efforts of the Chairmen at the time,” said Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX). “I wanted in the worst way to break that trend and return us to the bipartisanship which is the hallmark of this committee. While we are not there today, I am hopeful that we will get there just as we did in 2008 and 2014.”

Ranking Member Collin Peterson (DLF-MN) responded, “This is a flawed bill that is the result of a bad and nontransparent process. I oppose it and urge my colleagues on the Committee to oppose it as well.”

The Ranking Member made clear his view that cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are unacceptable. But there are problems beyond SNAP, said Ranking Member Peterson. “Members started coming to me asking why there wasn’t a baseline for animal disease prevention, the Organic Research Initiative, and the Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program. There’s no mandatory funding for scholarships at 1890 institutions,” also known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

There are a number of provisions that support organic agriculture (read about them here). The current draft of the Farm Bill does include an increase for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), though it is not as robust as the recommendation put forth by OFRF, which received broad support in Congress on both sides of the aisle.

The 2018 Farm Bill is a do-or-die moment for several organic programs. It could be a retreat from the progress we’ve made over the past 20 years or it could be a breakthrough to the strongest support yet—increasing annual funding for organic research from $20M to $50M per year

OFRF is in DC working every day to bring farmer voices to Congressional representatives from both parties. Now, more than ever, we are dependent on our supporters like you. A lot is at stake. Donate now to support OFRF’s bipartisan organic advocacy work. 

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