Please don’t reopen the 2014 Farm Bill. That was the message a broad alliance of farm, conservation, nutrition, and rural groups recently sent to the House and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees.
“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has joined together with the American Farm Bureau Federation, Bread for the World, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and hundreds of other allied organizations to ask that the Budget and Appropriations Committees respect the long and deliberative process that goes into the making of every farm bill,” said Greg Fogel, Policy Director at NSAC, in a recent release. “With the 2018 farm bill debate quickly ramping up, it would be entirely inappropriate for congressional appropriators to use the upcoming 2017 and 2018 appropriations bills to raid mandatory funds from crucial farm bill programs like those that help farmers implement conservation activities on their farm, and anti-hunger programs that provide nutritious food access to families. These decisions should be left to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to make next year as part of the normal farm bill process.”
NSAC has consistently advocated against re-opening the farm bill during the appropriations process. In recent years, it has become increasingly common for appropriations bills to cut farm bill conservation program spending in order to fill discretionary spending gaps. These programs, which include the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), are the primary means through which farmers, ranchers, and foresters build soil health, prepare for drought and flooding events, limit water pollution, and enhance wildlife habitat. Despite the benefits that they provide to American farmers and ranchers and to the environment, these programs have been targeted unfairly for spending reductions, year after year, through backdoor cuts known as “changes in mandatory program spending.”
“In the coming months, congressional appropriators will finalize funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2017 while simultaneously beginning work on FY 2018,” said Fogel. “The letter sent today reaffirms that the purpose of appropriations bills is to modify discretionary, not mandatory, spending levels. Appropriators should not be in the business of cutting or postponing mandatory funding for farm bill programs through the appropriations cycle.”