FOLBR - Friends Of the Lower Blue River

Sustainable Hiker - Beyond the Trail Series

The Farm Bill

This Farm Bill expires at the end of September. The bill is reauthorized every five years. It's quite comprehensive. It covers everything from commodities and conservation to nutrition, energy and forestry. That's a lot to manage within the Department of Agriculture. Negotiations on the myriad of issues continue. Historically, the capital outlay is not evenly distributed. The nutrition category with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as its main program, garnered approximately 76% of the farm bill budget or $325.8 billion from 2019-2023.

The Congressional Budget Office projects a similar baseline with an increase of about 5 percent to the nutrition piece of the puzzle. That will leave about 20% for everything else. American Rivers, a prominent national non-profit based in Washington DC, has some recommendations for a river friendly bill.

Promote river and land management best practices, paired with intentional and purposeful climate-smart goals. Increase authorized levels of funding for programs that improve river health, including water quality and quantity. These recommendations are consistent with the work of FOLBR and broadly supports the Lower Blue River Valley and the Colorado River Basin as a whole.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service is doing a lot of work with the Forest Service host Climate Hubs around the country. These hubs serve to provide science-based, region specific information to agriculture and to resource managers such as the US Forest Service. This is a positive development. If the research is actively vetted for real policy implementation unique to each region, then the resulting boost in funding can have a real impact.

Food waste is one area, which I believe can have magnificent impact. If food waste goes to the landfill, methane is released. If it is collected and used to create high quality compost, it becomes an ecological asset for soil health. The food waste issue was introduced in the 2018 Farm Bill. It will be powerful, if the next version of the bill is enhanced.

We will keep you updated on legislation consistent with our mission and values.

Tom Koehler

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