As mentioned in our August 2023 newsletter, Congress was at the time working on the 2023 Farm Bill. The prior Farm Bill was set to expire on September 30, 2023. Due to the challenges Congress faced last year with the debt ceiling, the House Speaker votes, etc., they didn’t pass a new Farm Bill in time. As part of the continuing resolution passed in November to keep the government open, Congress extended the prior Farm Bill through September 30, 2024.
This gives Congress more time to complete its work on the Farm Bill and gives us more time to advocate for a more equitable, sustainable, climate friendly food system.One of the best ways to advocate is to ask our Senators and Representatives to cosponsor what are called marker bills. Marker bills are bills introduced in Congress to support certain policies that are not intended to be passed as stand-alone bills, but to be included in the final text of the Farm Bill.
Here are four marker bills that you can consider asking your Senators and Representative to cosponsor:
- Agriculture Resilience Act — HR 1840 and S 1016: Addresses the climate crisis by increasing investment in agricultural research, improving soil health, supporting the transition to pasture-based livestock, ensuring farmland preservation and viability, promoting on-farm renewable energy, and reducing food waste. Senator Fetterman has already cosponsored this bill.
- Strengthening Local Processing Act — HR 945 and S 354: Builds more resilient regional food systems by increasing livestock processing options for local livestock and poultry producers and helping consumers access locally raised meat & poultry.
- Small Farm Conservation Act – HR 5354 and S 2180: Creates a subprogram within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) tailored to support small farms and ranches. Senator Fetterman has already cosponsored this bill.
- Local Farms and Food Act – HR 2723 and S 1205: Removes barriers for applicants and increases investments in the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP). Both Senators Casey and Fetterman and Representative Fitzpatrick have already cosponsored this bill.
CALL TO ACTION:
To contact Representative Fitzpatrick, call 202-225-4276 or go through his website, https://fitzpatrick.house.gov
To contact Senator Casey, call 202-224-6324 or go through his website, https://www.casey.senate.gov
To contact Senator Fetterman, call 202-224-4254 or go through his website, https://www.fetterman.senate.gov
If they have already cosponsored one of the above marker bills, you can thank them. If they haven’t cosponsored the bill, you can leave or send a message such as:
“Hi, my name is _______ from [your town] and I’m a [farmer, parent, concerned citizen, etc.] and a supporter of the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance. I’m concerned about sustainable agriculture and the health of our small farms in Bucks County. I’m calling to ask you to support our farmers and healthy communities by cosponsoring the [bill name and number]. Thank you!”