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Coalition Pushes Congress to Pass Farm Bill

23 August 2012, at 7:56am

US - A coalition of nearly 40 farm and ranch organisations have joined forces to raise public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programmes expire in September.

The coalition, called Farm Bill Now, comprises associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, specialty and minor crops, energy and biobased product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups, as well as the nation’s two largest farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.

“The farm bill affects our nation’s ability to provide the necessities of life for a global population projected to pass nine billion by 2050. Here at home, it affects an industry that provides 23 million—or one in every 12—American jobs.

“The farm bill has broad impact on our citizens and our economy. It provides healthy foods to millions of school children and nutritious options to families in need. It develops and expands trade with valuable foreign markets. By reducing spending significantly compared to prior farm bills, the proposals pending right now in Congress address the need to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

“And yes, it benefits American farms—98 per cent of which are owned and operated by families. It helps big farms and small farms, major crops and specialty crops, organic farmers and conventional farmers, cattle ranchers and cotton ginners, farmers markets and national suppliers, and the vast range of other pursuits that make up American agriculture. This year, it would help farmers tackle the challenges posed by the worst drought in a generation.

“While Congress waits to finish the farm bill, we are united in asking all Americans to encourage legislators—home for summer town hall meetings and speeches—to finish this vital legislation before the current farm and food law expires in September. After all, it’s your bill too.“

In addition to the launch of the coalition, Farm Bill Now is launching an interactive web portal at www.FarmBillNow.com, through which visitors can connect to their members of Congress and show their support for a new five-year farm bill.

Using messages to Congress via social media, event locations and times, and an online petition, FarmBillNow.com gives both farmers and consumers the resources they need to make their voices heard, telling Congress that the farm bill needs to be completed before the current farm food law expires in September.

On Wednesday morning, 12 September, the groups will gather on the grounds of the US Capitol alongside members from the Senate and the US House of Representatives, as well as leaders from other major farm and commodity groups, rural development, livestock, conservation, hunger, consumer and energy organizations to encourage Congress to pass the bill before programmes expire at the end of the month.