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Background

The Farm Bill is now set to be reauthorized in 2024. Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders (SAFSF) explains that the Farm Bill is the most significant piece of legislation Congress enacts that has a direct impact on farming livelihoods, how food is produced, what kinds of foods are grown, and how economically distressed families eat.

Given the impact of food insecurity as a social determinant of health, the Farm Bill’s nutrition support has important equity implications. Nutrition spending makes up more than 80 percent of the total budget for the Farm Bill, and in FY 21, more than 41 million Americans participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Federal nutrition programs, including SNAP, serve 25 percent of Americans.

Legislation

Typically, the Farm Bill is reauthorized every five years. The 2018 Farm Bill includes twelve titles that cover commodity crops support, conservation of natural resources, nutrition, access to credit, rural communities, research and education, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance, and beginning and historically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, among other things. The 2018 Farm Bill expired on September 30, 2023.

In November 2023, President Biden signed a stopgap funding measure passed by the House and Senate which included a yearlong extension of the 2018 Farm Bill. Congress now has until September 30, 2024, to pass a full five-year bill.

Talking Points

  • Ensure that SNAP benefit levels are adequate to achieve a nutritious diet; that eligibility requirements and employment and training programs promote workforce participation and increased earnings without presenting undue barriers to SNAP participation; and that access to SNAP is expanded to all U.S. territories. SNAP effectively increases access to nutrition for people experiencing hunger and helps support economic stability and mobility during recessions.
  • Support equity and inclusion in nutrition assistance programs. Health challenges related to food and nutrition insecurity disproportionately affect communities of color, households with children, and other vulnerable populations. USDA Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Cindy Long said, “At times during the pandemic, Black, Latino and Indigenous adults have been two to three times more likely to report not having enough to eat, and the numbers are even worse among families with children.”
    Close the racial and economic gaps created by previous Farm Bill provisions that subsidize farm consolidation and favor production methods that create barriers and reduce opportunities for operators of small and medium-scale farms and historically disadvantaged farmers. 
  • Protect our rich agricultural lands and our long-term environmental health through robust conservation programs that support crop, livestock, and natural diversity, as well as conservation-based farming systems, as valuable tools to reduce agricultural risk, support production of nutrient-dense food, sustainable fibers and address water quality, biodiversity, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Repair and rebuild thriving rural communities damaged by previous Farm Bill provisions that hasten depopulation and loss of economic opportunity through consolidation and concentration in the agricultural sector.

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