On September 30, 2012, the current 2008 Farm Bill (P.L. 110-246, Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008) is scheduled to expire. In addition to dictating subsidies and insurance for large-scale and commodity agriculture, this piece of legislation contains programs for local food distribution, conservation, rural development and other programs critical to the livelihood of American Indian/Alaska Native communities, tribes, villages, farmers and ranchers.
In November 2011, Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to reach bipartisan agreement for cutting the federal deficit. As part of the process, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees identified $23 billion in cuts to USDA programs as part of a draft 2012 Farm Bill, a proposal which has become known as the “Secret Farm Bill.”
The failure of bipartisan agreement now enables the 2012 Farm Bill to proceed through the regular legislative process that entails the provision of public hearings. The Senate will conduct hearings in February and March 2012. The first set of hearings occurred on Feb. 15, 2012, February 28, 2012 and focused on energy and rural economic development and conservation, respectively. Other hearings were scheduled for:
- March 7, 2012: Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production, and Nutrition
- March 14, 2012: Risk Management and Commodities
The 2008 Farm Bill currently contains15 titles that include programs critical to the viability of American Indian/Alaska Native communities, tribes, villages, farmers and ranchers. The significant impact to Indian Country as a result of potential elimination and/or decrease in funding from these programs will be experienced in Native American households who already live well below the national poverty rate and rely on SNAP and FDPIR; in Native communities working to increase access to safe drinking water and provide basic sanitation; and in the provision of technical assistance to farmers and ranchers provided by NRCS.
To watch previous Farm Bill hearings click here.
To contact your elected officials click here.