Building on a Partnership that Fed a Nation
During the pandemic, we saw how farmers, food companies and retailers came together with food banks to connect nutritious food with families in need. It was a partnership that relied on creativity, flexibility, and farmers’ deep-seated belief in helping their neighbors, to aid the Feeding America network in providing 6.6 billion meals to people facing hunger. We now have a chance to reflect and build on those innovations in the 2023 Farm Bill.
Making the Most of the Farm Bill for Families Facing Hunger
For decades, the farm bill has created pathways for farmers to take the nutritious food they grow and provide it to individuals and families facing hunger. Farmers Feed America—a coalition of farmers, food companies, food retailers and anti-hunger organizations—is focused on strengthening those pathways and the trusted partnerships between farmers and food banks. Through shared principles on farm bill reauthorization, we are working to bolster our nation’s food resilience, meet the continued needs of communities, and enhance markets for farmers and ranchers.
Our Collective Focus
Farmers Feed America is working today to tackle the challenges of tomorrow by focusing on the following priorities in farm bill reauthorization:
- Farmers are proud to feed people across our country. The farm bill is best when it includes funding for both agriculture and nutrition. We urge Congress to continue this balance.
The farm bill represents a historic alliance between the interests of the nation’s agricultural growers and producers and hunger-relief advocates. The legislation is designed to connect agricultural supply with demand. The farm bill strengthens our nation’s food security best when it both supports farmers and reduces hunger.
- The programs that connect farmers to people facing hunger should be nimble, efficient and based on best practices. The farm bill should maintain the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) flexible funding and authority to support U.S.-grown food through food purchases when the market is disrupted.
Since the 1930s, Congress and the USDA have used funding flexibility provided through Commodity Credit Corporation and Section 32 authority to support U.S.-grown agriculture products. The USDA has also used selective procurement to mitigate market disruption by connecting people facing hunger with excess farm production.
- In our nation of plenty, we should ensure farmers can connect to people seeking food assistance during tough times—The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) does just that. The farm bill should strengthen TEFAP to help food banks keep up with the rising need for food assistance and food costs.
TEFAP serves multiple vital functions. The program provides a key market for domestic producers, a relief valve for farmers during times of oversupply, and free emergency food assistance for individuals and families with low incomes. Each year, TEFAP provides critically needed food assistance to millions of people.
- USDA should balance the need to act swiftly in making food purchases with the need for stakeholder engagement, particularly in the face of rapidly changing agriculture markets. Congress can ensure the USDA has the flexibility to adjust to supply chain fluctuations when purchasing food.
Members of the Farmers Feed America coalition learned the importance of flexibility during the pandemic and have worked to scale and adjust the food supply chain to respond to disruptions and increased demands for food.
American Farm Bureau Federation
Consumer Brands Association
International Dairy Foods Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Pork Producers Council
North American Blueberry Council
United States Sweet Potato Council