CONGRESSMAN BISHOP LAUDS PASSAGE OF FARM BILL
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) released a statement regarding passage of the conference agreement on the Farm Bill (H.R. 2642, the Agriculture Act of 2014). Passage of the Farm Bill hails a success for all Americans, particularly our socially disadvantaged farmers and minorities by funding our nation’s agriculture programs, including nutrition, historically black land grant colleges and universities (HBCU’s), Hispanic serving institutions, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison, the Office of Tribal Relations, and the Donald Payne Horn of Africa Food Resilience Program. The bill also provides Rural America with the necessary tools and stability to continue producing the safest, most abundant, highest quality, and most affordable food and fiber in the world.
“The Farm Bill is not just for farmers and those living in Rural America. It is for every American who eats, works, and lives in our great nation. Investments in broadband infrastructure and programs focusing on research, conservation, rural economic development, energy, forestry, trade, dairy, crops, and food policy contained in the Farm Bill affect all Americans by nature of the personal daily impact they have on suburban, urban, and rural communities alike.
“I am particularly pleased with the compromise reached in our nutrition programs. The nutrition title rejects harmful changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs proposed in the House passed bill, while addressing hunger and poverty by investing in programs that provide meals to the elderly, lunch to school children, supplies to emergency shelters and food banks, as well as assistance to millions of American families in need of healthy nutritious food.
“While the Farm Bill the House passed is not perfect, I do believe that overall it strikes a good balance. “Truly, the consensus brought to bear offers security and peace of mind to Rural America, strengthens the decades-old link between farm and nutrition programs, cuts the deficit over the next ten years, expands investment in Georgia communities, and provides a springboard upon which to improve agriculture policy for future farm bills and the betterment of Americans from all walks of life.”
Congressman Bishop voted in favor of the Farm Bill. The bill was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week with a vote of 251 to 166, by the Senate today with a vote of 68 to 32, and will now go to the President for his signature.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):
- Requires a minimum $20 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payment (impacts roughly 850,000 households), cutting waste and streamlining a program that helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist with energy costs
- Removes drug testing and language prohibiting participation by convicted felons and their families even after they have completed the terms of their sentence
- Provides funding for an employment & training pilot program
The Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program:
- Reauthorizes and provides a funding level of $30 million per year for the program ($10 million mandatory and authorizes $20 million annually)
- Funds the Office of Advocacy and Accountability
- Creates of a new Office of Socially Disadvantaged Farmers Group
Title II (Conservation) Programs:
Establishes 5% goal for USDA to increase participation of small, disadvantaged, and beginning farmers in all Title II programs by increasing USDA visibility, usage of, and focus upon;
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program
- Priority for conservation loans and loan guarantees
- Priority for Rural Development value added producer grants
- Biomass Crop Assistance Program projects
- Risk Management Education
- Creates of a new Office of Small Farms and Beginning Farmers Group
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Center:
- Establishes a socially disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Center at an HBCU, 1890 Land Grant College or University
Support for 1890 Institutions:
- Reauthorizes funding at $25 million per year
Receipt for Service:
- Requires the issuance of a written receipt for service or denial of service to any current or prospective participant for programs serving farmers and ranchers as operated by FSA, NRCS, and any other program directly serving producers.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP):
- Increases commodity purchases funding by $200 million over 10 years
Assistance to Community Food Projects:
- Funding increase from $5 million to $9 million
Seniors Farmers Market:
- Reauthorizes the program
Foreclosure Language Moratorium:
- Continues the current moratorium on foreclosures and the waiver of interest and offsets included in the 2008 Farm Bill which is found at Sec. 331A(b) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act
For additional background regarding H.R. 2642, please click here.