Editor’s Note: The 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30th. If the next farm bill is not finalized before that date, numerous “tiny but mighty” farm bill programs that support family farmers and food-producing communities will effectively shut down in terms of new funding and grant opportunities for fiscal year 2019. These workhorse programs, which have small price tags but big impacts, touch nearly every part of the American food and farm sectors. This is the second post of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s “What’s at Stake?” series, which highlights soon-to-expire farm bill programs and details what their absence could mean for farmers and communities nationwide.
Though the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee is actively working on negotiating the draft farm bills from the House and Senate, there are very few working days left before the last farm bill expires (September 30). Family farmers and advocacy organizations like NSAC are fighting to protect local and regional food programs in the next farm bill, but we are also preparing for the possibility that the farm bill will not be passed on time – in which case the 2014 Farm Bill would have to be extended. Under an extension scenario, tiny but mighty programs like FMLFPP and FINI are not automatically funded; in fact, USDA would be unable to make any new awards unless Congress provides new funding. NSAC is therefore working with our members and allies to ensure that these critical programs are funded should we be faced with an extension.
Between the House and Senate draft farm bills, the Senate’s bill is the clear winner when it comes to supporting local and regional food systems. As mentioned above, the Senate bill creates a new program called the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), which combines FMLFPP with the Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program and several other related initiatives. LAMP streamlines and amplifies the most effective components of these two programs, while also maintaining their core functions and benefits.
Source: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, September 10, 2018