Policy Brief: House Farm Bill Fails, National Service Funding in Jeopardy

Farm Bill: House bill failed!

Thanks to the efforts of a diverse coalition of advocates from all across the country who care about nutrition, conservation, sustainable agriculture, and rural communities, the House’s historically bad farm bill proposal did not garner enough votes to pass.  Earlier in May, in a somewhat dramatic scene on the floor of the House of Representatives, all Democrats and 30 Republicans provided enough votes to prevent the bill from passing.  

Click here to see how your Representative voted.  And, if you don’t know who your Rep is, click here to enter your address and find out.

There has been a lot of punditry and analysis on why the bill failed, but here is one particularly interesting take, putting the House vote in a historical context.

What’s next?

There’s still a number of stops ahead on the long road to getting a farm bill signed into law.  

The latest reports are that the House will vote again on the farm bill on June 22.  As that date gets closer, we will be back in touch on possible actions.  It will likely be a close vote again.

Meanwhile, the Senate continues its bipartisan work to draft its version of the farm bill.  The timing for when that will be released is uncertain, but it could be in early June. And, ultimately, the House and Senate will need to reconcile any differences between bills that either chamber approves before it is sent to the President for signature.

Appropriations Update

AmeriCorps funding

As we reported in past updates, the President’s budget proposal for the 2019 federal fiscal year again called for eliminating all funding for national service, including AmeriCorps.  The President’s 2018 budget proposal also called ending federal support for national service and Congress wisely rejected that proposal on a bipartisan basis.  FoodCorps is working with fellow national service organizations to call on Congress to again reject this proposal. The House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees that deal with AmeriCorps funding are likely to take up this issue later in June.  We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program funding

The Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program is a top priority for FoodCorps and was funded for the first time ever in the FY2018 Omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed earlier this year.  With this funding, USDA will be establishing a competitive grant program that provides much-needed funds for organizations that deliver hands-on nutrition and food education, promote farm to school programs, and improve school food environments to help kids grow up healthy — organizations like FoodCorps.  We anticipate that USDA will release an call for proposals for this funding opportunity later this spring/early summer.

But, Congress needs to allocate funding for this program every year.  Earlier in May, the Senate Appropriations committee approved an agriculture spending bill that included $1m in funding for the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program.  However, the House version of the ag funding bill did not include this funding. As the appropriations process unfolds over the coming months, we’ll be working to ensure that this program continues to be funded into the next federal fiscal year.