In the Senate, a bill passed on a bipartisan vote in late June included funding for a variety of rural development programs, including a program that would support local and regional food systems and new farmers, and one that would make it easier for organic farmers to get crop insurance. The Senate bill also would require recipients of crop and revenue insurance to take basic measures to protect soil and water resources.
Over in the House in July, however, things got grim. While the House bill did maintain some funding for farmers market promotion, it also slashed more than $16 billion in food assistance programs for the poor; weakened insurance programs for diversified, organic, and healthy food farmers; eliminated programs that assist organic farmers with certification; and deepened cuts to programs that help farmers protect soil, air, and water resources. The combined damage led one commentator to call the bill a “full-on disaster.”And have any of you written a letter to editor of your local paper telling your neighbors why you shop at the farmers market near you? Everyone reads the letters to the editor!