The 2018 Farm Bill: Why It Matters

Congress allowed the 2014 Farm Bill to expire at the end of September. If legislators fail to pass a new version by the end of this fiscal year, vital programs will lose funding. These include many that provide technical and financial assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers, as well as many small, but significant programs that support local and regional food system development, healthy food access, and organic farming.

American agricultural leaders remain hopeful that the post-election lame-duck Congress will arrive at a compromise regarding contentious provisions of SNAP (food stamps), such as whether or not recipients should be subjected to random drug testing.

Excerpted from “The Food Trust’s Farm Bill Brochure”:

The Farm Bill directly affects virtually all Americans. It is a massive piece of federal legislation that guides our nation’s priorities and policies around agriculture, nutrition, environmental conservation, and energy. Reauthorized by Congress every five years, the bill, in some way or another, plays a role in how food in the United States makes it from the farm to our tables.

As it does in other communities and regions in the country, the Farm Bill has a large impact on the Greater Philadelphia area. Regionally, hundreds of thousands of people living in poverty rely on SNAP benefits which are a vital part of the economy in lower-income communities.

The impact is also found at local farmers markets that are made possible by the Farmers Market Promotion Program and in urban school-based gardens made possible by the Community Food Projects program. These Farm Bill programs work to prevent hunger, bring fresh foods to communities lacking access, and add vibrancy and diversity to the local food system.
The Farm Bill must address key priorities shared by Congress and the nation: the need to create jobs, reduce the deficit, reverse the obesity epidemic, prevent hunger and malnutrition, ensure a stable food supply, and protect the environment. While this might seem like a tall order, the potential exists.

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