Farm Bill: Back to the drawing board

Jan 8, 2013 by


Union of Concerned Scientists
Congress Passes Farm Bill Extension
Healthy Food and Farm Programs Cut in Last-Minute “Fiscal Cliff” Deal


In grade school, we all learned how a bill becomes a law. I’m writing today to update you on how a bill does NOT become a law and what happens next.

Over the last two years, you told Congress to support healthy food and healthy farms as it developed legislation known as the Farm Bill, a comprehensive set of food and agriculture policies that is renewed every five years. You rallied behind measures to increase support for the growth of farmers markets; helping farmers obtain organic certification; and expanding insurance options to encourage production of fruits and vegetables.

The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill in June, making some progress toward eliminating subsidies for Big Ag and shifting incentives to healthy food and smart, sustainable farming practices. Yet the House failed to bring a measure forward for a vote and, as a result, the terms of the last Farm Bill expired at the end of September.

As the 112th Congress drew to a close last week, the bipartisan chairs of the Senate and House agriculture committees negotiated terms for an extension of Farm Bill programs to be included with the “fiscal cliff” legislation that would have provided much-needed funding for key programs to support conservation and healthy and local food production. But in the end, this compromise was scrapped in favor of a one-year extension that reinstates old subsidy policies and guts support for key programs that healthy-food farmers rely on. This extension represents a huge step backward from the relatively modest reforms secured in the Senate bill last year.

On January 3, a new Congress was sworn in. Now the process starts all over. A new five-year Farm Bill will have to be introduced, negotiated, and voted on again-in both the House and the Senate. We will fight once again for inclusion of programs that expand the availability of healthy food and adoption of healthy farm practices. We count on your support to ensure that this time the bill will make its way to President Obama’s desk, and will be signed into law.


Jenn Yates
National Field Organizer
Food & Environment Program
Union of Concerned Scientists


The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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