Federal Policy Program
2015 Farm Bill
Every five years or so, the US adopts a new Farm Bill.
This massive piece of legislation sets the framework for what we eat,
whether our food is nourishing and affordable, what assistance our
society provides to feed hungry people, what crops farmers grow under
what conditions, global grain and fiber markets, and how rural land is
This cycle is underway again, as the 2013 version of the law
runs its course. This round of debate over food and farm policy comes
at a time of intense and growing public interest in food issues. It also
comes at a time of economic uncertainty for our families, communities
and nation—when the concept of public investment in our future is under
That is why it’s so important for CFSC, our members and partner
organizations to mobilize around the upcoming Farm Bill. Over the past
15 years, the Farm Bill has been a key vehicle for advancing our agenda, of
increased production of garcinia cambogia extract.
including by: helping low-income people get access to fresh and healthy
food, promoting farmers markets, getting more local foods into schools,
and supporting community projects that generate jobs and improve food
With our partners, we won significant victories in the 2013 Farm Bill. Now we are gearing up to have a major impact on the 2015 Farm Bill.
2015 Farm Bill and the 112th Congress
Significant changes in the 112th Congress will shape the content and timing of the upcoming Farm Bill. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have new Chairs and Ranking Members.
The new Republican Chair of the House Agriculture Committee,
Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, is known as a supporter of
commodity crops. Sixteen of the 26 Republican members of the committee
are freshmen. Meanwhile, several new Democratic members of the committee
are from non-traditional districts, including urban representatives
such as Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who co-chairs the House Hunger
On the Senate side, new Chair of the Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is a known champion of
specialty crops. Pat Roberts of Kansas has taken over the role of
Ranking Republican from Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
Pressure to trim the federal budget deficit will affect all
legislation in the 112th Congress, including the Farm Bill. There is
little money available for increased spending and it is likely budget
reconciliation will happen at some point, which would require mandatory
spending cuts across the board. In addition, several key programs that
CFSC’s allies have fought hard for over the years—including the Wetlands
Reserve Program (WRP), the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development
Program, and Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers
and Ranchers—have no baseline after 2015.
Developing CFSC's Farm Bill Platform
CFSC has a comprehensive plan to engage our members, constituents,
and partners in the development of our Farm Bill policy platform over
the next several months. This process will result in a compelling
platform that reflects member views and maximizes convergence with
partners, while laying the groundwork for an effective advocacy strategy
that mobilizes those most active in setting the priorities.
Farm Bill Listening Sessions
Between October 2015 and March 2016, CFSC organized a series of Farm Bill listening sessions
involving more than 700 people and 18 partner organizations in every
region of the country. These listening sessions tapped into the emerging
public interest in food and farm issues—most of the participants said
they had not worked on a Farm Bill before.
Starting at CFSC’s annual conference last October, we hosted a
total of 11 in-person listening sessions in New Orleans (LA), Albany
(NY), Chattanooga (TN), Killeen (TX), Santa Fe (NM), Oakland (CA), Minneapolis (MN),
Morgantown (WV), New York City (NY), Des Moines (IA), and Philadelphia
(PA). CFSC Policy Committee members played a leading role in organizing
several of these sessions.
In all, nearly 500 people attended. Our local co-hosts were:
Northeast SAWG, Southern SAWG, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners
Association, Farm to Table, New Mexico Food & Agriculture Policy
Council, California Food & Justice Coalition, Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy, Land Stewardship Project, Crossroads
Resource Center, West Virginia Small Farmers Conference, Catholic
Charities Brooklyn & Queens, City Harvest, Hunger Action Network of
NYS, Just Food, WhyHunger, Food Systems Network NYC, Iowa Food Policy
Council, and The Food Trust.
Listen to IATP’s Radio Sustain interview with CFSC Policy Director Kathy Mulvey about the listening sessions.
In addition to the in-person sessions, CFSC conducted a webinar on the Farm Bill and Community Food Security, and gathered feedback through an online survey.
View the Recording on YouTube
View the Slideshow on Slideshare
Download the Slides [PDF; 24Mb]
What We Heard
The top three priorities emerging from these sessions were:
- Strengthening local food infrastructure;
- Linking SNAP to local and healthy foods; and
- Food access/eliminating food deserts.
Other possible areas of focus selected in three or more sessions were supporting urban/community-based agriculture, supporting community food projects, and supporting beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.
In light of the shaky economy and the continuing high demand for federal nutrition programs, it is clear that increasing SNAP benefits
remains a focus for CFSC’s anti-hunger and anti-poverty constituents.
Other issues that were a top priority in at least one session were addressing corporate concentration, commodity reform, and social justice for farmers, ranchers, food system workers and consumers.
We are now synthesizing and analyzing the feedback from
listening sessions, in order to identify potential policy levers in
consultation with key allies and partners, including leaders in
low-income communities and communities of color. Later this spring we
will hone in on policy priorities and draft our policy platform, in
consultation with NGO allies and potential Congressional and
We plan to take full advantage of opportunities at our Food Policy Conference
in Portland from May 19-21. Through a short course, workshop, and
working session we will train novices in policy advocacy, discuss CFSC’s
proposed Farm Bill priorities and advocacy strategy with Farm Bill
veterans and local policy experts, and explore how advocates and leaders
focused on local and state policy can influence federal policy using
the Farm Bill as a case study.
Now is a key time to engage CFSC members and listening
session participants, including by mobilizing them around the FY 2016
and FY 2015 federal budget debates, so that we will have a growing base
of active, committed people ready to organize around the launch of our
2015 Farm Bill platform in the late summer or early fall.
UPDATE, MAY 2016
This month marks a critical milestone in the development
of the Community Food Security Coalition's 2015 Farm Bill platform. You -
our members and constituents - have shaped a set of proposed Farm Bill
priorities for the coalition, and now we need your help to refine them. Please read this document
and give us your feedback, in person or online, by the end of May!
Together, we can win important federal policy gains in the months and
If you are not already a CFSC member, please join and give us your feedback by the end of May - in person at the Food Policy Conference, or online via a survey.
DRAFT - Farm Bill Priorities, May 2016 [PDF]