On Wednesday, NCL joined hundreds of farmers and ranchers on Capitol Hill at the Farm Bill Now! rally. The purpose of the rally was to draw attention to the imminent expiration of the current farm bill on September 30, and to the fact that no new farm bill has been passed.
The farm bill is a massive piece of legislation that is passed every five years. Comprised of various titles that deal with issues ranging from commodity prices to conservation to—most notably—nutrition programs, the farm bill is an essential package. It provides certainty to farmers and ranchers, who then in turn are able to supply Americans with a healthy and reliable source of food.
The largest part of the money set aside in the farm bill goes to nutrition programs. In fact, 80 percent of the funding in the bill is devoted to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. These nutrition assistance programs, which help needy families put food on the table, are an essential part of the American safety net.
In recent years, which have been marked by financial hardship for many Americans, SNAP has served more Americans than ever. Currently about 46.6 million are participating in the program, up from 27.6 million in 2007. Additionally, SNAP has been shown to be an economic stimulator; USDA data indicates that every $5 in SNAP benefits generate $9 in community spending. The SNAP program is good for those who benefit as well as the farmers whose products they buy.
At the rally on Wednesday, Sally Greenberg, our Executive Director, spoke about the importance of maintaining funding for the nutrition title in the farm bill. She also emphasized how important small and family farms are to the American economy, and how necessary to their survival a dynamic and robust farm bill is. Check out pictures from the rally at our Facebook page!