The 2018 Farm Bill has been passed by Congress and signed by the President. This massive piece of legislation covers a diverse mix of government programs, everything from environmental protection, farm subsidies, food safety, international trade, and food stamps. Like its previous incarnations, the 2018 Farm Bill mostly supports big agriculture and leaves small farmers behind. As just one example, the 2018 Farm Bill includes nearly $900 billion worth of subsidies, most of which will go to large corporate farms and wealthy absentee landowners.
There were a few wins in this year’s bill. We were pleased that the bill did not include an amendment from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, known as the King Amendment. The King Amendment sought to eliminate hundreds of state and local laws protecting animals, children, workers, consumers, and the environment. The King Amendment would have stripped all states of their right to regulate any agricultural products sold within their borders, which would be a major setback for local food economies. The House version of the Farm Bill had included the King Amendment, but it was not in the final conference committee version passed by the full Congress, maintaining local control.
Unfortunately, the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act, the PRIME Act, did not make it into the bill. The PRIME Act would have allowed states to set their own standards for selling meat within their states from custom slaughterhouses, addressing one of the most significant problems for local meat producers—the lack of small-scale processing options. Neither the House nor the Senate even held a vote on an amendment to add the PRIME Act to the farm bill, despite bipartisan support for this critical reform.
We have our work cut out for us as we continue to support legislation, like the PRIME ACT, that will make a difference for small farmers and producers and strengthen local food economies. We need laws that support farmers and support consumer’s ability to purchase food from those farmers, rather than supporting Big Ag’s destructive practices. The timing is critical to reduce the pressure we put on the environment. United Nations officials estimate that at the current rate of degradation the world’s topsoil could be gone within 60 years. Big Ag receives all the money, while the soil degrades, and the small farmers who are choosing sustainable and regenerative agriculture over profits are losing their livelihoods.
This is why it is so important to support small farms and local food economies; they are the real stewards of the land. Please consider donating to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund so we can continue to protect, defend, and broaden the rights and viability of independent farmers, artisanal food producers, and their consumers.
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Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and policy work also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts and social media outreach.
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