After many months, technically years of waiting, the House Agriculture Committee has finally released their full draft legislative text of the delayed farm bill. 

While the recently released Senate farm bill outline provides a visionary and responsible path to resilient local and regional food systems, the House farm bill draft does the opposite. Titled the Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024, the extremely partisan draft underdelivers on a wide range of critical issues, and fails to meet the documented needs of producers in the Carolinas. 

To highlight only a few of the bill’s issues, the draft: 

  • Features no support or extension of the existing Local Food Purchase Assistance Program, but rather a new competitive food box pilot program with a capped number of awards and a limit on local procurement solutions. 
  • Contains a detrimental rewrite of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), fundamentally damaging CRP’s ability to address environmental concerns, and removes the guiding purpose of ensuring farmland is usable by the next generation.
  • Siphons away critical Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funding for a new, redundant grant program to support states administering soil health programs. Only 30% of farmers already applying to CSP can secure contracts, so draining more money to redundant programs would hurt farmers seeking important conservation dollars. 
  • Contains inadequate support for the Local Agriculture Market Program, increasing accessibility of the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs with no commensurate funding increase. 
  • Contains inadequate support for organic programs, expanding their authority with no additional funding, increasing the burden on already-underfunded programs. No continuation of Organic Market Development Grants. 
  • Fails to reform and streamline access to crop insurance for small, diversified and direct-to-consumer farmers and ranchers, but instead enhances insurance benefits for commodity farms by increasing premium discounts and lowering the threshold of loss necessary to claim payouts. 
  • Dramatically increases support for precision agriculture technologies, a high-cost conservation solution that only benefits a small number of farmers and consumes an outsized portion of conservation program resources. 

The House Agriculture Committee meets Thursday to markup their draft and vote on whether to advance the bill to the floor. CFSA staff will continue to engage with the Carolinas’ congressional delegation to make sure any potential farm bill is responsible and equitable for local and regional food systems. 

But we need your help, too. Rep. Don Davis (NC-1) will be a critical vote on the House Agriculture Committee. Call his office (202-225-3101) and encourage him to oppose the current House farm bill draft.