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Colorado leaders react to 2014 Farm Bill expiration

Posted at 6:25 PM, Oct 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-01 21:59:26-04

The 2014 Farm Bill expired late Sunday, putting dozens of programs on hold and causing uncertainty for others.

The Farm Bill includes critical programs like crop insurance for Colorado farmers and the nation’s food stamps program. Of Colorado’s 5.6 million people, nearly 500,000 use food stamps.

While the Farm Bill does include funding for farming, the biggest share of the Farm Bill goes to food stamps. About 75 percent of the $860 billion dollars is earmarked for food stamps, or what is now called SNAP, The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

On Monday, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., issued the following statement about the expiration of the Farm Bill:

Between a trade war and severe drought, Colorado’s farmers and ranchers need more certainty—not less. In the Senate Agriculture Committee, we crafted a truly bipartisan Farm Bill that received 86 votes on the Senate floor. Incorporating ideas we heard from Coloradans, the Senate bill directly benefits our state by legalizing hemp, maintaining a strong farm safety net, investing in conservation, and improving forest management. While the House continues to try to pass their partisan bill, we will keep working across the aisle to send a strong, bipartisan Farm Bill to the President’s desk as soon as possible.

Dr. Dale McCall, president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, issued this statement:

The Farm Bill is the nation’s most important and comprehensive piece of federal farm and food legislation. Its value extends beyond family farmers and ranchers to consumers, rural communities, and the environment. It also plays a central role in establishing a secure food supply, keeping food prices fair for both farmers and consumers, and sustaining the country’s resources.

Given the Farm Bill’s midnight expiration, there is a significant amount of uncertainty surrounding the future and funding of numerous programs, such as the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Value-Added Producer Grants, the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program, the Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. Many of these programs expired at midnight, while others won’t be able to enroll new contracts or lose mandatory funding until an extension or new Farm Bill is passed.

Farmers and ranchers have seen their income plummet over the past five years, and are now caught in the middle of a trade war with no end in sight, nor a long term plan to bring it to resolution. The last thing they need is the uncertainty an expired Farm Bill brings. We look forward to Congress returning to their work, soon, and urge them to find compromise on this very important matter. We also encourage the public to reach out to their federal legislators and ask them to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill during the lame duck session.

Also, Susan Grutzmacher, division director of community support with Boulder County SNAP, wanted families to know that food stamps are not in jeopardy.

On September 30, 2018, the 2014 Farm Bill expired without extension or reauthorization.  Although the House and Senate were unable to come to an agreement, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps” is not impacted.  The program is an “appropriated entitlement” and is funded independently of the Farm Bill.  SNAP is an important program that puts nutritious food on the table for many individuals and families.  We encourage families to continue to apply for SNAP, complete necessary paperwork to stay on the program and continue to use their benefits as they normally would.