January 8, 2013 - 5:23 pm
The Northwest Farm Bill Action Group had a busy 2012 working for a better, fairer Farm Bill. We got close – after many meetings with legislators, Farm Bill 101 workshops, online actions, and community events, both the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee passed versions of the Farm Bill which eliminated direct commodity subsidy payments and supported programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Farmers Market Promotion Program which help build a sustainable, alternative food system. Unfortunately, House Republican leadership prevented the bill from coming to the floor to be passed.
Instead, in the wee hours of January 1, 2013, a back-room deal tacked a partial extension of the expired 2008 Farm Bill onto a package of other last-minute legislation to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff”. This 9-month extension does not fund any of the important programs which steer us toward a more sustainable and equitable food system, and instead continues the direct commodity subsidy payments we had already agreed to eliminate! Needless to say, the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group will have plenty to do in 2013.
On our list of plans for the new year:
- Join national allies in reproaching Congress for their failure to stand up for sustainable food systems and asking for more progress this year
- In partnership with the Washington Young Farmers Coalition, host a listening session with our state’s first US House Agriculture Committee member in seven years, Suzan DelBene
- Work with the Good Food Coalition to support a legislative effort to restore WSDA’s Farm to School and Small Farms Programs
- Continue to educate the Puget Sound community about the Farm Bill and lead local advocacy efforts for a better bill in 2013