Funding the Farm Bill

Here in the fourth district, farming is a part of who we are. Whether you run your own farm, pick up fresh local ingredients at a nearby farmers market, or work in the garden on weekends, chances are you're engaging with our agricultural sector in some way, shape, or form. That's why it's so crucial that we ensure robust support of the Farm Bill, the primary source of funding for an array of programs that are vital to the well-being of our community.

This fall, the Farm Bill is up for reauthorization yet again, and the stakes have never been higher. As Congress begins fleshing out the next iteration of the Farm Bill, Jim Jordan and his cadre of Republicans are threatening to slash funding for programs that directly impact us here in Ohio. They’re doing this all under the guise of reining in spending, despite strong support of the recent tax bill that is actually increasing the federal deficit. This week, I want to you walk you through what the Farm Bill is, what’s at stake, and what I promise to advocate for when I’m your Congresswoman.

WHAT IS IT?

The Farm Bill is a unique piece of legislation, which allows the federal government to fund a variety of programs that fall under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Created initially during the Great Depression to assist farmers grappling with the economic realities of the time, the Farm Bill is essentially an omnibus spending bill that is reallocated every five years or so. The programs funded by the farm bill are astoundingly broad and varied, including initiatives that encompass conversation efforts, rural development, international trade, agricultural research, nutritional assistance, food safety, commodities, and so much more.

The reauthorization of the Farm Bill is already underway, and the House Agriculture Committee recently (and narrowly) passed a draft of the bill along party lines, which called for drastic cuts to a variety of important programs.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Unfortunately, the draft passed by Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee calls for massive cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by making millions of individuals ineligible for the program. The harsh new work requirements proposed by Republicans would preclude a huge number of Americans who currently qualify for the program from receiving benefits, leaving them with few alternatives for putting food on the table for themselves and their families.

I’ve spoken about the importance of SNAP in Ohio before, but its impact is worth reemphasizing. In total, 37,079 households in our district receive SNAP support. Of that total, 74.4% of those households are in the labor force. And while Republicans argue that the already stringent work requirements should be increased, a report by Policy Matters Ohio found that “Most households with a working age, able-bodied adult have at least one member who works while receiving SNAP.”

The problem with SNAP is not that people aren't working — it's that the jobs they have just don't pay enough to put food on the table.

The current draft of the Farm Bill is irresponsible. Not only does it threaten the livelihoods of millions of families through cuts to SNAP, but it dramatically reduces support for small farmers and vital initiatives that keep them going. Republicans have proposed zeroing out funding for a variety of critical "tiny buy might" programs meant to support small farmers, like the Rural Energy for America Program, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. Despite the fact that these programs constitute a tiny fraction of the $800+ billion dollar Farm Bill, Republicans in Congress have decided to take aim at programs that help our rural and farming communities — and Jim Jordan is among them. What’s more, the proposed Farm Bill also cuts one of the largest conservation programs, the Conservation Stewardship Program.

MY PROMISE

I’ve done my research. I understand just how critical the Farm Bill is to the citizens of Ohio, and as your Congresswoman, I’ll fight back against politicians like Jim Jordan who seem unconcerned with the tangible impact these programs have on our friends and family. The Federal government needs to spend smarter, and it’s Congress’ job to prioritize funding for programs that benefit hard-working Americans, rather than unilaterally cutting spending.

Congress should be crafting legislation that benefits hardworking, everyday Americans. When I'm your Congresswoman, I intend to do just that.