Senate Agriculture Commitee passes Farm Bill

Faith Grant's picture

On Wednesday, April 26th, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, also known as the Farm Bill, by a vote of 16-5.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York was the only Democrat to vote against the bill.  The bi-partisan legislation includes $23 billion in cuts as compared to current Farm Bill spending levels in an effort to reduce the budget deficit while still funding the nation’s food and farm programs.  Overall, organic agriculture fared reasonably well in this round of the five-year food and farm policy drafting process.  Considering the severity of the cuts that had been proposed over the past few months, organic farmers should be encouraged by the support organic received in the Senate draft. 

Nevertheless, significant challenges lie ahead as the bill moves to the full Senate for consideration.  In the meantime, the House Agriculture Committee is holding eight hearings over the next several weeks in Washington, DC and will then draft its own version of the bill.  House members have already signaled their intention to make significantly larger deficit cuts through the Farm Bill, and organic has been targeted in the past.  Supporters of organic farming and farmers will need to continue to pressure their Senators and Representatives to improve upon the Senate draft as this bill moves forward.

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