The Farm Bill Law Enterprise published 2023 Farm Bill Recommendations
The Farm Bill Law Enterprise (FBLE) recently published five reports that seek to infuse new ideas and amplify calls to action ahead of negotiations for the next farm bill. The reports focus on five areas of action for the forthcoming bill: Climate & Conservation, Equity in Agricultural Production & Governance, Farm Viability, Farmworkers, and Food Access & Nutrition.
FBLE is a national partnership of law school programs working toward a farm bill that reflects the long-term needs of our society, including economic opportunity and stability; public health and nutrition; climate change mitigation and adaptation; public resources stewardship; and racial and socioeconomic justice. New farm bills only happen every five years, and the current farm bill, passed in 2018, expires in September 2023. While legislative hearings on some farm bill programs have already begun, further hearings as well as the drafting and negotiation of the bill are anticipated to begin in the new year for the legislation to pass in 2023.
“As we focus national attention on strategies to address hunger, nutrition, and health through the White House Strategy released last week, the farm bill will be a key pathway for reforming our food system,” says Emily Broad Leib, FLPC’s Director and an author on FBLE’s reports. “We’ve come together as legal scholars, practitioners, and students to think critically about the role farm bill policy can play in creating a food system that is equitable and sustainable.”
Each new report by FBLE outlines goals and recommendations, with specific legislative actions that should be taken to achieve those objectives. The recommendations are designed to build on recent momentum to make equity a core value in USDA programming, uplift the voice of workers in the farming system, ensure access to nutritious food for all Americans, support the viability of small and mid-sized farms and local food systems, and make the U.S. agricultural system part of the climate change solution. The reports can be found at: farmbilllaw.org/2023farmbill.
One important area of focus for FBLE researchers is that of equity in American agriculture. “Despite community advocacy and incremental policy change, marginalized producers continue to face barriers in access to credit and land,” said professor Francine Miller of Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS), co-author of the FBLE report Equity in Agricultural Production & Governance. “From addressing discrimination across USDA programs, to increasing acess to land, credit, and education for marginalized producers, the farm bill gives policymakers a chance to make meaningful reforms to root out structural racism in our food system.”
“Now is the time for Congress and the USDA to make bold changes,” added CAFS professor and co-author Emily Spiegel. “We hope that the Farm Bill Law Enterprise will serve as a resource for policymakers to shape legislation that is informed and inclusive.”
FBLE’s recommendations aim to provide a starting point to generate further discussion about the best solutions for achieving common goals. Many stakeholders, communities, and organizations will have thoughts, constructive critique, and perspectives to offer that should ultimately shape the policies enacted in the farm bill. FBLE is eager to collaborate with other stakeholders to further develop and refine these ideas and set priorities for the coming farm bill cycle.
In addition to these Reports, FBLE maintains educational materials and an active blog on its website www.FarmBillLaw.org. FBLE will be tracking the bill’s development and progress on the website through its passage. FBLE members include law school programs with expertise in food, agriculture, public health, and environmental law, including: Drake University Law School, Agricultural Law Center; Duke Law School, Environmental Law and Policy Clinic; Harvard Law School, Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic; Harvard Law School, Food Law and Policy Clinic; Harvard Law School, Health Law and Policy Clinic; Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, Food Law Center; UCLA School of Law, Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy; University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Environmental Law Program; and Vermont Law and Graduate School, Center for Agriculture and Food Systems. The Harvard Law School, Food Law and Policy Clinic coordinates and leads the initiative.
Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) uses law and policy to build a more sustainable and just food system. With local, regional, national, and international partners, CAFS addresses food system challenges related to food justice, food security, farmland access, farmworkers’ rights, animal welfare, worker protections, the environment, and public health, among others. CAFS works closely with its partners to provide legal services that respond to their needs and develop resources that empower the communities they serve. Through CAFS’ Food and Agriculture Clinic and Research Assistant program, students work directly on projects alongside partners nationwide, engaging in innovative work that spans the food system. Visit vermontlaw.edu/cafs and follow @CAFScenter to learn more.