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Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

Republicans Are Trying to Cut Funding for Food, Farmers, and Climate

The Farm Bill puts food on the table for millions and builds climate resilience. But Republicans are trying to cut key programs through these negotiations.

House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson has been vocal about cutting Farm Bill funds.

You might not be a farmer, but a massive piece of legislation—being drafted in Congress right now—called the “Farm Bill” is something that you should be paying attention to.

That’s because the Farm Bill goes way beyond providing much-needed support to farmers. It literally shapes our food supply and, crucially, can help reshape it to make it more resilient under the threat of climate change. 

The Farm Bill supports food access, with more than three-quarters of its trillion-dollar budget going toward nutrition programs that ensure low-income families can put food on the table. And it informs how our food is produced in the first place by supporting sustainable agricultural practices, as farmers face devastating weather events caused by climate change.   

Put another way, if you eat food and want to see urgent climate action, what happens next in the Farm Bill reauthorization process matters to you. 

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The Farm Bill has been in the news a lot lately because this critical bill, last authorized in 2018, lapsed on September 30. Now, Congress is scrambling to pass a new version of the Farm Bill before the end of 2023.

And while Congressional Republicans talk a big game about supporting rural and everyday Americans, they are attempting to use the 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization process to cut popular climate and food programs, harming everyone from farmers to urban and suburban low-income families to people who want to see urgent climate action. 

Their proposed revisions include cutting billions of dollars in existing funding that would help farmers grow more climate-resilient crops, support better agricultural practices, and ultimately lead to more sustainable food for all of us. 

Worse yet, their newly-chosen House speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA)—a known climate change and election denier—has an equally spurious approach to the Farm Bill. He’s a vocal advocate of making cuts to the bill’s anti-hunger program (programs like SNAP and WIC)—something so reckless that even some members of his own party are concerned

So, in this process of finalizing a bill that literally puts food on the table for millions across America, Congressional Republicans are spewing a lot of misinformation

But we’re here to set the facts straight and urge Congressional Democrats to hold a united front in defending key Farm Bill programs. 


Remind Me, What’s the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill was first signed into law in 1933 to create a safety net for farmers and provide food security for communities impacted by the Dust Bowl. Since then, Congress has typically reauthorized the bill every five years. It includes policies that go beyond what the name implies—impacting everything from crop insurance to loans for operating farms and ranches to conservation and food assistance programs. 

Moreover, the 2023 Farm Bill can play a huge role in addressing climate change, since agriculture makes up one-tenth of nationwide greenhouse gas pollution. The conservation programs tucked into the Farm Bill can help mitigate its effects, as farmers face extreme weather events, crop-damaging floods, and livestock-killing heat waves that will likely only increase in the future. 

The IRA gave farmers an additional $19.5 billion in much-needed assistance for “climate-smart agriculture,” and these conservation funds are already working to build climate resilience and empower farmers to manage their land in a way that adapts to our new climate reality. In the Senate, Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) is working hard to protect IRA fundingsomething Congress must collectively and urgently commit to

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But over in the House, Congressional Republicans—who have repeatedly attempted to repeal other parts of the IRA since taking the majority earlier this year—are trying to undo this progress and are looking for ways to make cuts for critical programs, including:

  • Climate-smart agriculture funding; 
  • Rural electrification funding; and
  • Nutritional funding (i.e., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP).

Doing so, Republicans would be acting against the interests and wishes of their own constituents, as the vast majority of Americans—including Republican voters—oppose GOP efforts to cut climate funding in the Farm Bill. 

Fortunately, House Democrats are pushing back: Every Democratic member of the House Agriculture Committee signed a letter voicing their support for protecting the full $19.5 billion in climate-smart agriculture funding, acknowledging cutting these massively popular and necessary programs would hit rural America the hardest


How Rural Communities Benefit from 3 Key Climate and Food Programs

While Republicans claim that they act in the interest of “average Americans,” in reality, they are trying to raid funding for popular and pre-existing climate and food programs to pay for their Farm Bill programs that would benefit a select few. These potential cuts would hurt rural communities, raise costs for hardworking families, and increase food insecurity. 

After decades of disinvestment, rural and agricultural communities deserve investments in a thriving, clean energy economy that will deliver jobs, justice, and climate resilience, not a backslide in support.

Let’s take a closer look at these necessary and popular federal climate and food programs that Congressional Democrats must defend from cuts throughout the Farm Bill negotiation process: 

1. Climate-smart agriculture: Keeps farmers farming with sustainable practices

This $19.5 billion of IRA funding represents the largest investment in conservation on farms since the Dust Bowl. It helps farmers cut water pollution and climate pollution from planet-warming methane and nitrous oxide by promoting climate-smart agricultural practices like using cover crops and no-till practices, using native plants, and cutting excess fertilizer. These practices lead to healthier and more resilient farms and reliable crop yields, so it’s no surprise that these programs are so popular among farmers that the number of applicants consistently exceeds the available spots. 

Blog Post Image - Farm Bill Funding

2. Rural electrification: Makes electricity cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable 

The Empowering Rural America (New ERA) and Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) programs within the IRA inject $10.7 billion of federal funding into building the next generation of rural electricity systems to improve access to clean power across rural America. 

Transitioning to clean energy means lower energy costs, less pollution, better health, and new jobs for rural America. The BlueGreen Alliance estimates that federal loans for rural electric co-ops for clean energy will create more than 90,000 jobs over the next decade. And more affordable electricity is particularly helpful for farmers, who require a lot of power to run their operations. With record demand for New ERA and PACE programs across red, blue, and purple states, it’s a no-brainer for Congress to defend rural electrification funding during the Farm Bill negotiations.

3. SNAP: Puts food on the table for over one in ten Americans

The biggest portion of the Farm Bill’s dollars is dedicated to fund food assistance programs, most notably the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program supports nearly 42 million people in the U.S.—or about 12.5 percent of the country’s population. SNAP participation is highest in rural households, and a huge portion of its beneficiaries, about 36 percent, are children. 

The benefits and impact are clear. Beyond fulfilling every human’s basic right to food, SNAP acts as an important economic multiplier. People tend to spend food assistance dollars in their communities, which boosts their local economies. 

Though inflation is slowing, higher food prices in the past few years and an end to the COVID-19 pandemic SNAP expansion means many households are facing what some are calling a “hunger cliff.” They are counting on renewed funding in the Farm Bill to help put food on the table

Blog Post Image - SNAP/WIC

A family purchasing groceries using WIC. The biggest portion of funding at stake is dedicated to anti-hunger programs. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

Congress Must Protect Funding For Critical Programs in the Farm Bill

Clearly, we cannot slide backward and cut these vital programs. But Congressional Republicans are coming after them anyway.

The time is now for Congress to pass a robust Farm Bill that protects essential IRA programs that support rural communities including climate-smart agriculture, clean electricity, and food assistance programs. This bill can make our food systems more resilient and more sustainable—and no person should go hungry because Congress failed to get its act together. 

This is an opportunity to do good by rural America, support farmers, act on climate, and make our food system run better—Congress just has to take it. 

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Billions of dollars to support farmers and tackle climate change are at risk of being revoked. Learn more about opportunities to defend these and other important funds by signing up for critical action alerts now.

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