By now, you’ve probably heard rumblings about the 2023 Farm Bill, but what is it really and why is it important? Let’s take a deep dive into the Farm Bill and what it means for all of us right here at home.
What’s The Farm Bill?
Every five years, Congress votes on the Farm Bill – the single largest piece of federal legislation for food and farming that affects how food gets to all of us every day. Imagine the Farm Bill as a big bundle of policies and funding decisions that shape how our country supports agriculture, conservation and food assistance programs. It’s like a roadmap that guides how we grow, distribute and consume food in the United States. The last Farm Bill (from 2018) expires on September 30, 2023.
Why is it important?
The Farm Bill has a critical impact on food security, a term we use often to mean “having sufficient access to affordable, nutritious food we all need to thrive.” By providing support to food banks and nutrition programs, the Bill ensures that low-income families and individuals can have greater food security.
The Farm Bill also plays a vital role in supporting our farmers. It provides them with resources, subsidies and insurance programs to safeguard against unpredictable weather conditions, market fluctuations and economic challenges. When farmers are supported, they can continue producing high-quality, affordable food not just for neighbors struggling to get food, but for all of us.
Preserving our environment is another crucial focus of the Farm Bill. It encourages sustainable farming practices, soil conservation and protects natural resources. By supporting conservation efforts, we can maintain healthy ecosystems, protect wildlife habitats and ensure a greener future for generations to come.
So, what’s at stake?
Even if you don’t live on a farm or rely on food assistance programs, the Farm Bill affects you. By ensuring food security and supporting farmers, we all benefit from a stable and affordable food supply. Plus, conservation efforts protect our natural resources, allowing us to enjoy clean air, clean water and a healthy environment.
If the bill fails to secure adequate funding for food banks and nutrition programs, many vulnerable individuals and families may struggle to put food on the table. With 1 in 10 of our neighbors in southwestern PA currently facing hunger, including 1 in 8 kids, programs powered by a strong Farm Bill like TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) and CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) will help families and seniors get the nutrition they need to be healthy and thrive. These vital programs increase food access for our neighbors while also creating jobs and boosting the local economy. Moreover, without proper support for farmers, we risk losing their valuable contributions to our food supply chain, potentially leading to food shortages and increased prices.
What can you do?
Fortunately, there are ways we all can stand together to support a strong Farm Bill, food banks and other food programs across southwestern PA and the country.
Feeding America, of which Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is a proud partner, provided a sample letter you can sign online and send automatically to your local representative.
Help raise awareness about the Farm Bill through conversations with your family and friends. Posting about the Farm Bill on your social media channels is another fantastic way to spread the word about what it means for all of us. Use #FarmBill on your post to join other voices online.
In all, the Farm Bill is a crucial document that connects farmers, food banks, nutrition programs and all of us together. By understanding its importance and advocating for its success, we can build a stronger, more sustainable future—one plate at a time.