As the farm bill process has twisted and turned, it’s been hard to predict what comes next. Today, in a turn of events that surprised many, the House voted down the farm bill. The $940 billion bill was weak on organic and other sustainable agriculture priorities, but having no bill may be even worse. The USDA is currently acting under an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, which expires in September. Under the extension, many programs important to CCOF members, such as the Organic Certification Cost Share program, are not available.
The bill failed mostly due to a partisan rife over cuts to food stamps, which lost many Democrat votes, and the overall size of the bill, which lost a significant number of Republican votes. The vote happened following lengthy debate on amendments over the last couple of days.
The Senate cleared a farm bill from the floor last month, so at this point our ability to get a final farm bill rests with the House. What they will do next is unclear. The House Agriculture Committee could try to revise the bill to address concerns and resend it to the House floor for consideration, or Congress could end up simply passing yet another extension of the 2008 Farm Bill.
We thank our members for taking action to make calls, send emails, and go to meetings in support of a farm bill that supports a strong organic sector. We had over 25 meetings with CCOF growers and legislators in D.C. and in CA to discuss farm bill priorities. Your work made a difference as we saw a record number of Representatives speaking up for organic agriculture. We will continue to keep members appraised of developments, so stay tuned.