BOISE The Idaho Organization of Resource Councils (IORC) and the Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger (IIRAH) see major problems with H.R. 2, the US House of Representatives’ version of the Farm Bill.
In contrast to the Senate Farm Bill, which passed committee on June 13, the House bill reduces or eliminates funding for programs that create a more fair and just food system. H.R. 2 was voted down by the full House on May 18th amidst a debate on immigration policy, but it is still alive and another vote is expected this week. Representative Simpson voted for H.R. 2 the first time it was introduced, and Rep. Labrador was absent. We are calling on both representatives to vote against the bill as it is currently written.
The Farm Bill wraps farm policy and nutrition assistance together and has traditionally been a nonpartisan issue, but the House bill was drafted in a vacuum without bipartisan support. The House Farm Bill would create more food insecurity for an estimated 1 million American families by creating barriers that have not been proven to reduce need. It would also reduce or eliminate programs that help independent family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. These changes would make it difficult for the most financially vulnerable Idahoans, including families with children, to access quality nutrition.
"The Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger (IIRAH) urges that the 2018 Farm Bill be used as an opportunity to strengthen the effectiveness of the entire food system for Idahoans,” says IIRAH Chair Carl G. Van Slyke. “True food security depends on many factors: production of nourishing food on the farm, infrastructure and markets in rural communities, and household ability to purchase food. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is huge because it meets a significant need and it cannot be cut or altered without grievous harm to Idahoans. We call on Congress to stand for protecting and strengthening SNAP with its current structure, which works well in Idaho and with an appropriation at or above current funding levels."
The Farm Bill was created to reduce hunger, prioritize land conservation, and farmland preservation. Unfortunately, the House bill is backtracking on progress made on all three fronts. Proposed cuts to conservation programs, that already receive more funding requests than can be filled at current funding levels, will reduce the acreage under protection and remove options from farmers working to prioritize responsible management of their lands.
Christina Stucker-Gassi, chair of IORC’s Ag and Food Task Force says, “It is discouraging how farmers and ranchers have lost their political power – this bill doesn’t help address the debt crisis in rural America or the situations that have led to the decline of agrarian values Idahoans hold near and dear, but rather seems to reward the overproduction of empty calories. Our Representatives should not support this bill, and we must make them understand why.”
Together IIRAH and IORC see a need and an opportunity to publicly advocate for a stronger Farm Bill because it has far reaching implications for the work both organizations engage in, and everyone who resides in Idaho. We call on Idaho’s members of Congress to step forward and publicly denounce the House Farm Bill.