Published May 22, 2013

Farm Bill Update

By Drake Larsen

The Farm Bill is rolling again. Last week, versions of the bill moved through the House and Senate Ag committees in the process called “mark-up.” Iowa is uniquely poised with 3 of our congressfolk on these committees (Grassley & Harkin in the Senate; King in the House), so our Action Alert crew was called in to ask our leaders for support for beginning farmers and CSP & EQIP.

Thank you to all that were able to call, email, tweet, and fax our members of Congress. The best news for PFI in these committee bills is restored funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program for next year. As usual, the bills come with a mix of wins and losses. Both bills improve on support for beginning farmers and diversified crop/livestock farms. While working-land conservation programs, like CSP and EQIP, didn’t fare as well.

Now the Farm Bill has the full attention of the Senate – with floor debate happening now and continuing through roughly the end of this week. It’s almost certain that they won’t finish with the farm bill on Friday and will instead resume sometime after next week’s weeklong Memorial Day recess.

Many policy items we focus on aren’t in the spotlight currently, so Practical Farmers is watching from the sidelines as amendments are filed in the Senate. Amendments concerning CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) are still possible, so we will be watching for these and ready to share more stories with our Senators about how these programs help Practical Farmers.

For more up-to-date information, I’d encourage you to follow our friends at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition here:

Also, if you’d like to be added to our email list for Policy Action Alerts, please contact me at

As the Farm Bill progresses through the Senate and starts in the House – I’ll be in touch.