Farm Bill Alert: Last Chance to Make a Difference in the House!

Written by Arielle

Topics: Coal

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The Farm Bill is expected to go to a vote on the House floor this Thursday.

If you’ve already contacted Pelosi and other government representatives, great! Either way, please inform yourself of what (or what more) you can do to help with the Farm Bill by reading below.

Immediately below is the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s update — go to the link for more info on wins for organic (and a very clear presentation of what is still underfunded). Below the OFRF call is the CA Coalition for Food & Farming’s call – also focusing on restoring $3.1 billion to the Conservation Security Program, restructuring commodity payments, and funding Community Food Projects. (Thanks Marcia for this compilation and summary.)

1) OFRF Organic Farmers Action Network Policy Alert

Farm Bill Update -
Significant Wins on Organic;
Conservation Security Program Still Needs Funding!

The House Agriculture Committee approved its version of the Farm Bill last week (July 18th and 19th). Thanks to your phone calls and letters, organic agriculture fended off several proposed attacks and won some significant victories in the committee mark-up. However, the $3.1 billion cut to the Conservation Security Program (CSP), an important program that protects natural resources by rewarding environmental conservation measures that farmers implement, was not rectified during full committee mark-up.

As the revised bill moves to the House floor for a vote on July 26, this is our last chance to put pressure on Congress to restore the $3.1 billion cut from CSP. Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN), House Agriculture Committee Chair, has left it in the hands of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Speaker of the House, to find funding for the Conservation Security Program. Please call your Representative TODAY and urge him to pressure Speaker Pelosi to restore the $3.1 billion cut to the Conservation Security Program. Without restoring these cuts, farmers hoping to make environmental and conservation improvements to their land will lack the financial assistance to do so.

Phone Rap: “Hi, my name is ______ and I am a constituent. I urge Rep. Matheson to contact House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ask her to find the money to restore the $3.1 billion that was cut from the Conservation Security Program in the Farm Bill. The Conservation Security Program rewards farmers who implement farming systems with strong environmental and conservation benefits, and helps to protect soil, water, and other natural resources.”

2) CCFF: Last Chance for Action in the House


The House Ag Committee voted its Farm Bill proposal, HR 2419, out of committee last Thursday. It is expected to go to a vote on the House floor this Thursday. Many headlines around the state are lauding the fact that California scored some big wins. While the $1.5 billion mandatory funding for specialty crops is a significant step forward for California and included modest gains for many of our priorities, $1.5 billion over five years still pales in comparison to the roughly $40 billion commodity program that actually rewards farmers for growing commodities in ways that harm the environment. Furthermore, the proposed bill offers a payment limits package that is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and weaker than the Bush administration’s proposal: the proposal actually removes any cap on loan deficiency payments and increases the cap on direct payments by 50 percent to $120,000. You can read more about our perspective in this front page Chronicle article “Pelosi takes the Heat for Stand on Farm Bill”

Key Conservation Program Slashed
The proposed Bill increases conservation funding by only $3 billion over 5 years. That’s less than the Bush administration asked for. The proposal slashes the Conservation Security Program by $3 billion. This program is currently helping many California farmers reduce pesticide use and protect air, water, soil and wildlife habitat. The Bill also fails to include mandatory funding for a highly successful local food program, the Community Food Project Competitive Grant Program, that helps low income communities develop projects that increase their access to local food, while promoting new markets for small farmers. Read our most recent letter to Speaker Pelosi.

ONE FINAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ACTION IN THE HOUSE If you’ve been meaning to get involved, today is your last best chance to make a difference in the House. With the farm bill scheduled to be debated on the floor of the House July 26, it is up to Speaker Pelosi to demand real reform and make sure that the Conservation Security Program and the Community Food Project Grant Program get the resources they deserve in the final Bill.

CALLS NEEDED TO REPRESENTATIVES TODAY THROUGH July 25!!! Please call the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask for your Representative’s office by name. Once connected, ask the Representative’s receptionist for the staff person responsible for agriculture. If the agriculture aid is unavailable, leave your name, phone number, and the message above on the aid’s voice mail, or if necessary, with the receptionist.

The message: I am a constituent of Congressperson_____. I’m very concerned about the Farm Bill’s failure to enact meaningful reform and invest in local food and conservation programs that deliver far more public benefit. I would like to ask Congressperson___ to call Speaker Pelosi and ask her to negotiate a Farm Bill that:
restores $3 billion to the Conservation Security Program
Applies Real payment limits to commodity programs, including a $40,000 direct payment cap and the closing of all loopholes.
providing $30 million in mandatory funding for the Community Food Project Grant Program
More information and talking points: The current Farm Bill proposal will simply perpetuate a tremendous imbalance in Farm bill funding in our state that delivered nearly $1 billion in subsidies to California rice and cotton growers while only $64 million flowed to the state for conservation between 2003- 2005. To change this ratio, and to have adequate resources for local food, organic and nutrition programs that deliver far greater benefit, we need real commodity reform.

Sample letters for your representatives and for Nancy Pelosi are on our website. You can cut and paste messages and send them to your representative here. To send a message to Speaker Pelosi, click here.

Must Read recent Farm Bill editorial:

Editorial: Tighten the cap on farm subsidies. Huge payments have become counterproductive

Must Read Blogs

Mulch and the Ruminant

San Francisco and California voters can make all the difference. The more people that take action, the better our chances of real reform will be. Forward this message to others using the forward button below. Thank you for taking action.

Kari Hamerschlag

California Coalition for Food and Farming

5 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Luke says:

    Campus progress recently blogged about this:

    How the Farm Bill Affects More Than Just Farms

    and they have a cool bubble chart showing the various issues that the bill touches:

    Cool, huh?

  2. Do you support policies to increase the availability of healthy and affordable food that is grown locally and in ways that protect the environment? In addition to calling your Representative, you can send them a letter. At, you can fill out a form and we will send a letter for you.

    Another site to check out where you can read more about what the Farm Bill means for our country is

  3. Arielle says:

    Rachel, I personally support the availability and affordable food that is grown locally, yes! Thanks for your additional input!

  4. Robin says:

    I would just like to make a comment about the very fact that this issue is all over the news and getting a lot of attention this year.

    To me, this is a great example of how activism can work. The farm bill (or as I now like to call it the “food bill”) has been pretty obscure to most people. This year, however, I’ve see a lot of creative action, a lot of good media coverage, and some of the first-ever victories in changing agricultural practices in the US.

    It gives me sincere hope to see how a once mostly-unknown issue has come front and center thanks to great nation-wide organizing.

  5. What would it take to create a better happier,earth? Jer.10:23 ; 1Cor.10:31b; Rom14:23b; Ps.41:1
    Jesus Willing Qualities As The Way Of Life To Restore All Things

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