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Why is the Farm Bill Important?

Snowy farm land at sunset

Every five years, Congress passes a Farm Bill that shapes food access and nutrition, agriculture, rural economies, trade, on-farm energy production, and so much more. With farm incomes plunging, trade wars looming, and climate change heightening the threat of natural disasters, the fate of this Farm Bill is very important. 

The first Farm Bill was drafted in 1933, in the wake of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, to address the needs of America’s farmers at a time when hunger and poverty were widespread across the country. 

Since 1933, roughly every five years the federal government reviews the food and farm landscape and renews this enormous piece of legislation. A handful of issues usually dominate Farm Bill spending, including nutrition, crop insurance, and conservation. The remaining 1% of spending packs an increasingly important punch, covering many innovative programs that are changing the landscape for farmers and consumers, including issues as varied as international trade, rural development, local food systems, beginning farmers, racial equity, research, forestry, and more. 

The fate of these programs hinges on the swift reauthorization of the Farm Bill, where programs could be cut, reduced, reshaped, or expanded. Fiscal conservatives aim to slash spending, particularly on nutrition assistance and conservation. Meanwhile, others are focused on increasing our investment in climate-resilient agriculture—supporting farmers and ranchers to cope with and manage the impacts of climate change on their farms while also implementing sustainable agriculture methods to prevent those impacts from worsening. This is a move the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) supports, not only because it strengthens farmers, but because it strengthens all of us. 

EEN believes now is the time for investment in sustainable, climate-resilient agriculture that builds strong farms and rural communities. We also must work to create racial equity across agriculture, prioritize communities over corporations, and ensure everyone has access to food that is good for their health and the health of our soil and water. 

John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world” (not just corporate profits, not just political posturing). God so loved the world! And what did God do to affirm His love? God sent his Son, Jesus, to reveal His love for the entire world. There are fourteen holidays between November and January. Some are cultural expressions; others are historical; some are religious. Each, in its own way, celebrates God’s involvement in the messiness of this world. If God is so concerned, so in love with this world and everything in it, it seems to me that as followers of Jesus we should do the same. There are many who need hope. They don’t need a Christmas present; they need His Christmas presence. They need to be reminded of what this season is all about. It is not about things. It is not about presents. In Jesus, God specifically embraced His world. Let us do the same!

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