The House and Senate have issued outlines for the Farm Bill. See how the two proposals meet the priorities of rural communities, and use this announcement as a resource to support your advocacy. The Farm Bill is one of the most long-ranging and critical pieces of legislation that bring resources to our rural communities. The nearly $1.5 trillion bill will have substantial financial impacts on farm, food, nutrition assistance, conservation, energy, and rural economic development and infrastructure policy.

Farm Bill Advances

The Farm Bill is a year behind schedule, and Congress has been bogged down in dysfunction and extremism. Congress is now showing progress on the Farm Bill. In May 2024, the House Chair of the Agriculture Committee and Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee released outlines of competing versions of the Farm Bill. The House and Senate outlines are working through their respective committees and, hopefully, towards a unified piece of legislation adopted by both the House and Senate.

Neither version of the bill addresses the full potential of what the omnibus bill could do to benefit our communities. Most notably, the House version makes massive cuts to the SNAP program which will harm rural economies and put more people at risk of hunger. The House bill also gives too much power and money to corporate agribusiness interests over the needs of hard-working rural Americans. The House bill, in its current form, is unlikely to pass the House and even less likely to pass the Senate.

In contrast, the Senate's version is a more realistic proposal that includes dozens of bipartisan ideas to strengthen and invest in programs that give rural people the tools and opportunities to live a good life. While it makes several positive improvements, there are many rural priorities that it does not fully address.

Organizing for the Best Outcome

We still have a long way to go, and we must continue advocating for real solutions. We could get to a Farm Bill that is close to the current Senate outline, which would provide important support for farmers, small businesses, and families. On the other hand, Congress could pass a farm bill that is significantly worse than the current Senate draft, which would cause drastic harm to our communities. And with congressional dysfunction, it’s not clear if we’ll get a Farm Bill at all, and the bill may be extended for another year. We encourage our network and rural communities to continue to advocate on this issue.

Rural Priorities

We’re drawing from our grantee network to review how the two Farm Bill versions address key priorities for rural communities. In March 2023, our grantees shared their Farm Bill priorities to support healthy food, a clean environment, and support for rural people. Our Rural Policy Action Report also provides key recommendations for a more prosperous future for everyone. 

Top Farm Bill Issues

The Farm Bill covers a lot of ground, and there are a few issues that rise to the surface. We’ve highlighted a few of the largest, most contentious issues that will have the biggest impact on rural communities and will be the most discussed issues.

We’ve grouped the issues by the priorities in the Rural Policy Action Report and summarized the differences between the House and Senate versions.

Invest in Rural CommunitiesBAD: Massive cuts to SNAP benefits by eliminating required updates to the Thrifty Food Plan.GOOD: No cuts to SNAP benefits.
Rein in Corporate GreedWORSE: Spends billions, increasing the safety net for large producers, concentrates on a small number of commodity crops with archaic rules that will limit access, and includes 10-20% increases in crop insurance premiums for wealthy producers. These programs primarily benefit corporate agricultural input suppliers at the expense of farmers who need support the most.

BAD: Preempts California and Massachusetts laws setting animal welfare standards for meat sold in the state and other future laws that might address issues of production.
BAD: Spends billions, increasing the safety net for large producers, and it funds a small number of commodity crops, including 5% increases in crop insurance premiums for wealthy producers. The Senate version makes some progress toward improving the safety net for smaller producers who grow a wider range of commodities.
Accelerate Executive Order on CompetitionBAD: Does not include critical anti-trust enforcement by adding a Packers and Stockyards special investigator.GOOD: Includes critical anti-trust enforcement by adding a Packers and Stockyards special investigator.

MIXED: Exempts meat processing facilities with $50 million or less of live animal purchases from important rules. Amends the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow additional time for buyers to submit payments using wire or ACH payments.
Protect Progress on Climate LegislationBAD: Eliminates the climate change adaptation and mitigation guardrails on the billions of dollars of conservation spending passes in the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition, the House version drastically restricts the Secretary of Agriculture's ability to use the Commodity Credit Corporation spending authority for various important uses, including the response to a changing climate.GOOD: Protects Inflation Reduction Act guardrails around major conservation spending focused on mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Additional Farm Bill Priorities

We said it before: the Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation and has the potential to broadly support or harm our communities. In addition to the top issues described above, there are numerous high priorities.

End DiscriminationGOOD: Makes formerly incarcerated individuals eligible for SNAP benefits.

RISK: Streamlines in the permitting process could have negative impacts by reducing community input. 
GOOD: Makes formerly incarcerated individuals eligible for SNAP benefits.
Labor Protections for FarmworksBAD: Decreases protections for farmworkers by limiting state and local authorities’ ability to regulate pesticides. Food and farm workers continue to face hazardous conditions in the workplace, including chemical pesticide exposures, extreme heat, and unsafe line speeds in processing plants.GOOD: Creates infrastructure and positions to improve farmworker and food system worker safety
Recognize Native Nations, Honor Treaties, and Access to LandGOOD: Codifies Administration's initiative for the USDA Office of Tribal Relations to oversee self-determination contracts and self-governance compacts entered into between the Secretary and tribal organizations or Indian tribes.BETTER: Increases access for Tribal colleges and land grant institutions. Studies whether existing education extension programs are meeting the needs of Tribal lands and Tribal populations. It expands coordination and pilot programs of self-determination projects. Requires the Secretary to designate Tribal Promise Zones
Champion Farmer EquityGOOD: Reauthorizes Heirs Property Intermediary Relending Program, reauthorizes appropriations for the Equity in Education LandGrant Status Act of 1994, and removes the $100,000 cap per institution.GOOD: Provides a limited opportunity for underserved producers that own or operate a farm to establish new base acres or add base acres if recent plantings exceed the existing base acres.

Require corrective action, increase accessibility and navigation of resources, and $5 million annually for microgrants to small farmers.

Establishes at least 12 regional food business centers that support small and medium-sized farms and food-limited resource producers.
Invest in Rural CommunitiesGOOD: Expands some provisions, including crop insurance access to beginning and veteran farmers. Codifies and reauthorizes support for wastewater and drinking water systems. GOOD: It invests in several important categories, including local food systems, farm and food chain workers, young and beginning farmers, and small farmers. It develops a new Office of Small Farms within USDA and makes grants available directly to small farmers. Increase funding for drinking water systems and wastewater facilities.
BroadbandGOOD: Continues support for rural broadband.GOOD: Continues support for rural broadband.
HealthcareMIXED: Continues support for rural healthcare, but not funding Rural Development programs like the community facilities program that have been critical for rural health facilities.GOOD: Continues support for rural healthcare.
Credit and LendingGOOD: Provides increased credit access to new, young, beginning, and veteran farmers transitioning to farming and ranching. Encourages private capital investments in rural communities.

BAD: Includes a dangerous exemption to the 1071 Rule of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that would allow farm credit system lenders to stop reporting loan data to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Data transparency would help the public understand which farmers are being served and establish whether we are making progress toward ending lending discrimination.
GOOD: Provides increased credit access to young and underserved producers by addressing land owner succession issues — such as those associated with heirs’ property— increasing the microloan limit, and administrative provisions that will ultimately benefit young and underserved farmers.
Expand Support for Regional Food EconomiesMIXED: Continues funding for Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) but doesn't expand reach and accessibility.GOOD: Increases funding for LAMP to $30 million for 2025 through 2029. Simplifies and expands criteria for producer and local food programs.
ChildcareGOOD: Establishes a 3-year rural childcare initiative.GOOD: Provides funding for childcare programs and facilities, as well as comprehensive evaluation of rural childcare.
Safe and Affordable HousingGOOD: Provides flexible housing partnerships to alleviate rural housing challenges and provide up to 100-year lease terms and renewals on administrative sites.GOOD: Adds workforce housing as an eligible project for Business and Industry loan guarantees.
Rebuild Local Government and Institutional CapacityBAD: Does not create baseline funding for Rural Development, Rural Partnership Program, or capacity buildingGOOD: Provides $50 million per year for the Rural Partnership Program. The funding would provide valuable rural capacity-building support for local coalitions that will help unlock billions in federal funding.
Reform Mandatory Checkoff Programs for CommoditiesBAD: It does not include commodity checkoff reform.BAD: It does not include commodity checkoff reform.
Strengthen Food Labeling RequirementsGOOD: Creates a pilot program for a small number of facilities to provide clear labeling.BETTER: Establishes standards for voluntary U.S. origin labeling claims for Food Safety Inspection Service products.
Conserve Our Natural ResourcesBAD: Directs EQIP funding to subsidize factory farms rather than more effective conservation programs.GOOD: Permanently authorizes important conservation programs and expands support for farmers and ranchers to participate in conservation programs.

GOOD: Grants to monitor and remediate the impacts of PFAS contamination of agricultural land or farm products, including providing financial assistance to impacted producers and conducting research — a critical step towards holding polluters accountable.

BAD: Invests in methane reduction ideas that entrench factory farms and harm frontline communities
Build a Renewable Energy FutureMIXED: study and limit solar installations on farmlandGOOD: Increases support for rural energy, including technical assistance, federal cost share, and support for small projects.
Is your organization working on the Farm Bill? Tell us how the outlines compare to your priorities and how you engage on this issue.
SNAP Program

Going Hungry: Families Face Massive Cuts

No one should have to choose between paying their bills or putting food on the table. And with the price of food at record-high levels, many working families are struggling to make ends meet. The SNAP program supports 41 million people to feed their families and it disproportionately benefits rural economies and saves jobs.

The Farm Bill presents an opportunity for Congress to pass the legislation needed to help address alarming hunger rates by protecting and strengthening SNAP. However, the House Bill proposes massive cuts to the SNAP program. This drastic measure is the most contentious part of the House proposal.

Additional Farm Bill Analysis