Farm Bill 2012 Platforms
Negotiations for the 2012 Farm Bill are already underway. Given the tight budget environment, decisions over which program areas to cut will undoubtedly be contentious. Whatever the result, the Farm Bill will play a key role in determining what the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will look like for the next five years.
Here we have assembled several examples of policy proposals developed by key industry, advocacy, and political organizations that will be involved in Farm Bill discussions.
Advocates for Food Security and Nutrition
With 1 out of 6 Americans facing food insecurity and 2 out of 3 adults overweight, these organizations work to relieve hunger and to improve the diets of all Americans. Some are anti-hunger organizations that work directly in communities to provide meals to those in greatest need; others are advocacy groups that aim to increase access to fresh, affordable foods in food deserts; and other organizations are public health and nutrition associations that seek to promote healthy eating.
House hearings on nutrition in the 2012 Farm Bill have been dominated by discussions of waste and fraud in the SNAP program. These organizations hope to shift the focus toward the important health benefits and economic stimulus provided by SNAP. Many of these organizations are working to change the American food system to one that values health, equity and sustainability. As a result, their farm bill platforms may recommend decreasing funding for commodity programs and increasing funding for nutrition, conservation, and small business agricultural entities.
- California Food and Justice Coalition
- Civil Eats
- Community Food Security Coalition
- Food Alliance
- Feeding America
- Food First
- Food Research and Action Center
- Food and Water Watch
- NYC Food and Farm Bill Working Group
- Roots of Change
- School Nutrition Association
National Farm Organizations and Trade Associations
These organizations represent the farms, farmers, farm industries and trade associations of America. Due to trends in U.S. farming in recent decades, many of these groups represent industrial-sized farms with strong lobbying capacities. Others speak for the interests of small family farms.
These organizations focus largely on continued support for farm safety net programs, which can be divided into commodity, risk management, and disaster assistance programs. The commodity programs include government subsidies for cash crops (such as soybeans, corn, cotton, and rice). Risk management programs deal with broader market declines in yield or revenue, and are meant to cushion farmers from the impact of a volatile agricultural market. Disaster assistance programs provide support to farmers in the case of weather-related crop losses.
Many lawmakers are keen to target commodity programs in the 2012 Farm Bill, as there has been widespread protest of the “direct payments” subsidies that farmers receive. These payments occur regardless of market demand for crops (as opposed to counter-cyclical payments, which are paid out to farmers only if market demand has dropped).
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- American Soybean Association
- American Sugar Alliance
- International Dairy Foods Association
- National Association of Wheat Growers
- National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
- National Corn Growers Association
- National Cotton Council of America
- National Family Farm Coalition
- National Farmers Union
- Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance
- United Fresh Produce Association
Regional and Local Farm Organizations
Farm policies can vary widely across regions. These organizations represent farmers and farms across the United States, with policy platforms that reflect each organization’s regional interest. As with the national farm organizations, these groups are looking for government support for their crops—but with more local specificity.
Like national farm organizations, these groups are supporters of farm safety net programs. But you also might find among their platforms more interest in support for small, family farms and non-industrial agriculture. They are likely to call for a more equitable distribution of government subsidies.
- Ag First Farm Credit Council
- California Farm Bureau Federation
- Northeast Midwest Institute
- Northwest Farm Bill Action Group
- Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance
Advocates for Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Protection
These organizations are working towards a more environmentally sustainable agricultural system in the United States. They support areas such as organic agriculture, locally grown foods, farmers’ markets, reduced pesticide and antibiotic use and diversified crop growth.
Conservation policies have gained increased attention in Farm Bills over the past decade, however they still represent only a small portion of government agricultural funding and will likely be the target of budget cuts in the 2012 Farm Bill. Therefore the organizations below will promote policy positions relating to preserving farmland, supporting local farms and organic agriculture, and decreasing subsidies for industrial cash crop producers.
- American Farmland Trust
- Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Environmental Working Group
- Farmers’ Market Coalition
- National Organic Coalition
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
- Organic Farming Research Foundation
- Organic Trade Association
- Union of Concerned Scientists