A coalition of progressive farmers and environmental activists has recently expressed uncertainty about the upcoming farm bill, stating that they are worried that the debates in Congress will stifle sustainable agricultural growth.
With the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill just five months away, farmers across the country are worried about the prospects of major agricultural shutdowns. While Congress has promised to either pass a new farm bill by September or renew the current farm bill, current partisan bickering in the House and Senate, as well as the upcoming 2012 presidential election, has led many farmers to questions Congress’ ability to pass new farm legislation.
Some farmers, however, are worried that a new farm bill will only entrench current problems in the American agricultural economy, hindering the development of a sustainable agricultural future.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has led the charge against the current direction of congressional farm bill debates. In particular, they have identified two major areas of concern for the upcoming farm legislation.
First, Congress is currently considering major reductions to progressive, local farming initiatives. Programs like Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, which supports local consumption of locally grown agricultural produce, and programs designed to aid organic farming and small-scale farmers may lose their funding in upcoming budget fights, cementing the power of large-scale agricultural giants.
In addition, the elimination of direct payments, which sustainable agricultural groups say is a good thing, will lead to the weakening of conservation programs. Current direct farm payments are linked to conservation requirements, forcing farmers who receive federal money to abide by a series of environmental regulations. The current plan to replace direct payments with crop insurance and revenue guarantee programs do not contain these conservation clauses, meaning that many farmers may choose to abandon the conservation practices that have reduced environmental degradation.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer