As we all know, Congress drafts legislation, debates the merits of the bills in committees and ultimately holds votes to see which proposals will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. These bills deal with all sorts of topics, both domestic issues and foreign affairs. But no bill has as big of an impact on what Americans eat and their access to nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables as the United States Farm Bill.
hero_image_alt_text===Farm Bill Update
thumbnail_alt_text===Tell Congress to make nutrition a priority today!
The farm bill is a multi-year piece of legislation that comprehensively addresses agriculture, food, nutrition, hunger and public health policies. These programs were last reauthorized in 2014 and are set to expire in just under six weeks, unless Congress can pass a new bill or agree to extend the 2014 bill temporarily.
Farm bills play a key role into the daily lives of all Americans. Policies set in the farm bill can improve access to healthy foods and make them more affordable for millions of consumers, which are important to improving health outcomes, ensuring children are ready to learn in school, and promoting a strong economy.
Over the past year the United States House and Senate have worked on separate versions of the farm bill. The two chambers have vastly different priorities in their legislation and now that both the House and Senate have passed their bills, they have moved into what is known as a conference. During the conference select Representatives and Senators come together to work out the differences between the bills. While this is happening, we need to make sure that all our elected officials know that we want them to make nutrition a priority and support farm bill policies that will preserve and increase access to healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
The farm bill sets policy for all sorts of programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides food purchasing assistance to millions of our nation’s most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the disabled, veterans, the underemployed, and low- and no-income people across the country. Protecting access to and benefits of such an important program that provides food security to millions should be a priority for any proposed farm bill.
Other policies that need robust support during the farm bill conference include the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program (FFVP), the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI), and nutrition education. FFVP, provides the most disadvantaged children with much-needed education and exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables they may not get elsewhere. FINI provides extra fruits and vegetables to SNAP participants at point of sale. Nutrition education provides vital education necessary to address food insecurity and poor nutrition. If our legislators do not hear from us they may cut these important programs that help feed our nation and keep us healthy.
While each member of Congress has their own concerns and priorities for the farm bill conference, representing the unique needs of their districts and states one thing is certain. Nutrition NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY for all involved. Preserving and improving policies and programs that increase access to nutritious food like fruits and vegetables needs to be the goal of all involved. Please take just 30 seconds and tell your members of congress that you care about the health of the nation and urge them to emphasize nutrition in the farm bill.