2023 Farm Bill
MOFGA's 2023 Farm Bill Platform
The farm bill is an omnibus bill (i.e. a package of legislation combined into one bill) passed roughly once every five years. This bill includes the bulk of the federal legislation that relates to agriculture, food, and the food system. As such, it has a massive impact on how food is grown, sold, distributed, and bought in this country.
The current farm bill expires in September 2023, and a new farm bill is expected to be passed later this year.
MOFGA wants a Farm Bill that:
- invests in and protects the integrity of organic and agroecological practices as a core solution to our climate and biological crises.
- ensures fair treatment and just livelihoods for farmers and workers throughout the food and farming systems.
- invests in rural communities, increases fairness and resilience of local and regional supply chains, and breaks up consolidation of agriculture.
- centers racial justice across all programs and repairs past and ongoing racialized harm.
- promotes food sovereignty for disadvantaged and ensures nutrition security for all.
- eliminates the use of toxic substances on farmland and in our food system while supporting a just transition for farmers.
Based on our guiding principles above, we have identified six priority policies we would like to see included in the next farm bill. We will continue to amend this list as new high priority bills and proposals emerge.
Please note that some of our top priorities for agriculture policy are typically not included in the farm bill and are implemented or regulated by agencies other than the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Opportunities in Organic Act offers a suite of flexible, easy-to-access tools to reduce barriers to organic agriculture, including for Black farmers, Indigenous farmers, farmers of color and producers historically excluded from organic certification. It will modernize reimbursements for organic certification, increase technical expertise and support within public institutions and NGOs and expand support for producers transitioning to organic.
The Agriculture Resilience Act will harness the power of agriculture to confront our climate and biological crises. With urgent action now, including the investments and policy reforms in the ARA, we can meet our climate goals and dramatically improve our food system while engaging farmers in making the critical changes necessary for our future.
Immediate support to address dramatically increased organic input costs for organic dairy farms is urgently needed to reverse the alarming decline in family organic dairy farms in the northeast. Organic Farmers Association’s priorities for organic dairy will increase organic milk market transparency by requiring AMS to publish organic-specific data, invest in local infrastructure and ensure that disaster relief efforts support the specific needs of organic dairy farms. Systemic reforms such as those detailed in the Milk from Family Dairies Act are also needed to ensure farm viability and market opportunities for all family dairies.
USDA has a demonstrated history of discriminating against Black, Indigenous and farmers of color in lending and credit practices and program implementation. Our nation must take action now to facilitate secure, affordable access to land and access to credit for young farmers and farmers of color—there is no time to wait. The reforms in the Justice for Black Farmers Act and the Fair Credit for Farmers Act are a first step in addressing and correcting discrimination against Black farmers in farm assistance and lending programs and to ensure representation on county FSA committees.
Farmland that is contaminated with PFAS (aka “forever chemicals”) is a threat to public health and farm viability and must be addressed to ensure a safe and prosperous future. As PFAS contaminated soil, milk, and even produce and crops are detected, farm families and farmworkers are most vulnerable and need immediate support to protect themselves, their business, and their communities against continued exposure. The Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act would authorize funding for states to assist affected farmers, expand monitoring and testing, and fund PFAS research.
We join with our allies across the many sectors of the food system in opposing legislation that will increase consolidation and corporate power through mechanisms that prioritize short term profit over long term sustainability, such as carbon markets and biogas markets. These false solutions focus too narrowly on carbon or methane at the detriment of biodiversity, ecosystem health and function, and allow bad actors to continue to pollute while further entrenching farmers in systems of chemically-intensive agriculture. (To learn more about what we mean by “false solutions”, check out this explainer from our allies at IATP.)
While the farm bill can’t address many systemic issues contributing to hunger, the federal nutrition programs within the Farm Bill provide a critical safety net for the many people in Maine (11.4% overall and 18.1% of children) who are experiencing food insecurity. The reauthorization of these programs by Congress every five years provides an opportunity to improve and strengthen the way they work in Maine, and ensure all who are in need have equitable access to strong and responsive programs.