Congress Conferees Agree Upon 2014 Farm Bill
Posted On: January 27, 2014
It’s been two arduous years, but the House and Senate Agriculture Committee conferees have finally agreed upon a bipartisan bill. The bill will reduce spending by about $23 billion over the next ten years, with about a third of those savings coming from a $8.6 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
We are excited to report that the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (formally the Farmers Market Promotion Program) has been included in the bill, with funding at $30 million a year for 5 years ($150 million total). Each year, 50 percent of the funds will be used towards “farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.” While the other 50 percent be used for local and regional food enterprises such as food hubs.
Administrative spending for the program will be capped at 4% — 6% less than FMC had hoped. While the total increase in funding assures that more farmers markets will have the opportunity to benefit from the newly expanded program, this cap will limit the amount of technical assistance and support that the USDA can give to grantees.
Other programs directly impacting farmers markets are also well-represented in the bill, including:
Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grants $100 million over 5 years
Community Food Projects $45 million over 5 years
Specialty Crop Block Grants $375 million over 5 years
Specialty Crop Research Initiative $400 million over 5 years
Now, the bill returns to both the House and Senate for a final round of approvals. The House is rumored to vote on the bill as early as Wednesday.
UPDATE Feb 7th: After passing in both the House and Senate, the farm bill has now been officially signed into law by President Obama!