More than 250 organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, sent a letter today to House and Senate agriculture committee members and leadership advocating passage of a five-year farm bill as soon as possible.  The groups are urging Congress to move forward on a unified farm bill that preserves a five-year authorization for all programs, while continuing the partnership between the nutrition and farm communities.  

In the letter, the groups cautioned against ending provisions that would reinstate permanent farm law from last century. “For decades, the threat of reinstatement of the long-outdated policies of the 1938 and 1949 acts have served as strong motivation for Congress to enact new farm bills,” the letter said.  “Repealing those acts and making the 2013 farm bill commodity title permanent law could make it difficult to generate sufficient political pressure to adjust the commodity safety net provisions should conditions in production agriculture change.”

The groups said they are also concerned that if Title I of the 2013 farm bill is made permanent, other important farm and rural programs covered in other titles would risk not being reauthorized if the bill expires after five years. 

“If this should occur and we revert to permanent law, then programs covering conservation, forestry, research, energy, rural development, horticulture, trade, etc., could be left to the will of the appropriations process, likely with limited funding and little opportunity to update or adjust to meet changing needs in agriculture and rural communities,” the letter said.

“We also fear that a farm bill without a meaningful nutrition title will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the House and Senate to reach a bipartisan agreement on a final version that can be signed by the president,” the letter said. 

The letter was sent by organizations representing farmers and ranchers, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy, trade and crop insurance companies.

“This important legislation supports our nation’s farmers, ranchers, forest owners, food security, natural resources and wildlife habitats, rural communities and the 16 million Americans whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry,” the letter said.