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Letter: America needs a better Farm Bill

To the editor: 

My name is Bill Gorman and I am a farmer in Goodhue. Over the past two years, I have been working as a Land Stewardship Project member to advocate for a better Farm Bill. Through listening to farmers, it was clear we need a farm bill that uplifts family farmers, sustains our soil, and helps grow rural communities.

The Farm Bill that passed the U.S. House Agriculture Committee Wednesday April 18 and will soon be voted on by the full House next week fails on all of these fronts. The bill does not respond to the pressing challenges in agriculture that impact our communities, our land and water.

The bill eliminates our nation's largest working lands conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program or CSP and dramatically cuts conservation funding over the next decade.

It also leaves untouched unfair and damaging aspects of the largest farm safety net, federal crop insurance, which left intact and unreformed benefits corporate ag and continued land consolidation. We need to invest more in the next generation of farmers, rural development, local foods and instead this bill either gives flat line funds or cuts them completely.

The unneeded changes to the requirements to the SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — make it more challenging for millions to obtain the food they need that farmers grow. I have not heard people asking for this and it is derailing the entire process.

What is also wrong is that this bill was created in secret and is now being rushed through the U.S. House of Representatives. It is clear that our democratic process is weakened when backroom deals and political agendas are prioritized over the voices and participation of people. This is a characteristic of corporate-controlled politics, rather than government led by the people.

I ask you to join me in calling on our Minnesota member of Congress Rep. Jason Lewis to not support this bill and for Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith to create a better bill in the U.S. Senate that responds to the real needs of farmers, communities and the land.

Bill Gorman