Policy Brief: Timing Uncertain on the Farm Bill

Enjoy this month’s policy update! We’re covering what’s going on with the farm bill, government funding, USDA school meals guidelines and how to advocate for national service.

Farm Bill – Timing uncertain

As we’ve reported before, the current farm bill expires on September 30, 2018.  The House Agriculture Committee is further along in the process of drafting a bill, while the Senate Agriculture Committee has not advanced as far in their work.  

A top priority for FoodCorps is that the new farm bill reauthorize and improve the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program (FASLP).  If funded, this program would support organizations working to improve child nutrition through food, nutrition, and agriculture education.  We are also working with the Appropriations committees in Congress to seek funding for this program.

The FASLP has been included in the bipartisan Local FARMS Act, and we’ll be working with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) to help build support for this Act to be included in the final farm bill.  Stay tuned for more on how you can help!

Because Congress has a number of other issues on its plate (most notably, finalizing a funding deal for federal fiscal year 2018), the timing on the next steps in the farm bill process is uncertain.  But, we’ll keep you posted on updates and opportunities for action.

Also, if you want a farm bill 101, check out this great video from NSAC’s former Policy Intern and FoodCorps alum, Noah McDonald.

Government Funding – Finalizing 2018 and looking to 2019

As we write this, Congress is still working on government funding for the 2018 fiscal year.  The current budget deal expires on February 8.  Congress either needs to come up with a solution for the rest of the fiscal year or pass yet another short-term extension.  

We’re still hopeful that the final deal will include level-funding for AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service.  But, we will continue to work with our partners at Voices for National Service to monitor the funding process and act, as needed.

Meanwhile, we also anticipate that the President will release his budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 in mid-February.  We’ll be closely following that proposal, and will be prepared to push back on any proposal to cut funding for national service or any other programs central to our mission.

USDA’s School Meals Rule – Thank you for raising your voice!

Thanks to all of you who sent comments to USDA on their rule extending “flexibilities” in school meals that would weaken the strong, science-based nutrition standards.  We had a great response to our action and many other advocacy groups also activated their networks to submit comments.  USDA now analyzes all the comments that were submitted and decides how it will proceed.  While we don’t know what the final outcome will be, it is important for them to have heard a solid base of support for strong, evidence-based nutrition standards that support the health of our kids.

If you missed our action alert, make sure you don’t miss the next one!  Either text FOODCORPS to 52886 or click here.

Service Year Alliance Chapters

Service Year Alliance is a bipartisan organization committed to making a full-time year of service– a service year– a common expectation and opportunity for every young American. They’re organizing the entire National Service community to take action in communities across the country to advocate and spread awareness about national service. If you are interested in learning about getting involved in a Service Year Alliance chapter in your community, please email Laura Thompson, Northeast Regional Field Director at Service Year Alliance at lthompson@serviceyear.org.