ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — With farm bill discussions underway in Congress, the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) has set forth priorities from its foreign market development committee and sustainability working group that it would like to see addressed, including international food aid, grains research, and conservation.
The current farm bill was signed into law in 2018 and is due to be reauthorized by Sept. 30, 2023. NAMA recently joined with 400 other organizations calling for robust funding for the farm bill to address a wide range of needs.
“The farm bill is the cornerstone of federal farm policy and at its core is about delivering nutritious products that sustain and enrich people’s lives around the world,” said Jane DeMarchi, president of NAMA. “NAMA’s farm bill priorities reflect its role as the indispensable link between raw grain and food and we urge Congress to be mindful that food security should be a top priority during the farm bill debate.”
NAMA set forth these points of emphasis for the farm bill:
International Food Aid
- NAMA supports “putting the food back in food aid” by restoring the farm bill authorized programs to their roots as pure in-kind commodity donation programs and requiring that not less than half of Food for Peace funds be used to purchase commodities.
- The farm bill should recognize the unique contributions of US farmers by eliminating the use of Food for Peace to hand out cash or vouchers or purchase commodities from competitors.
- NAMA also leads advocacy to secure annual appropriations for international food aid programs. In March 2023, NAMA led a stakeholder letter to appropriators seeking an investment of at least $2.3 billion in the Food for Peace, Food for Progress, and McGovern-Dole programs in Fiscal Year 2024.
- All of the grains milled by NAMA members benefit from the USDA research units across the country that carry out or support small grain research activities. While NAMA and industry leaders also contribute to the research initiatives and believe in strong public-private partnerships, the success of US agriculture is due in large part to the sustained federal investment in foundational agriculture research.
- NAMA supports increasing the farm bill’s authorization for wheat and barley research from $15 million to $20 million to support the US Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative.
- NAMA recently joined over 50 organizations in sending a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees that supports at $8 billion investment in research in the next farm bill.
- NAMA believes farm bill conservation programs should not further skew planting decisions away from food grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and rye. Growing these small grains can improve environmental sustainability and resiliency while improving food security.
- Intentionally seeded and harvestable winter wheat, winter barley, and rye should have the option of being classified as a “cover crop” by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services and other climate-smart programs.
- The farm bill should expand access to technical assistance for conservation planning by increasing staffing options and community-based grants.
- As weather patterns and plant breeding continue to evolve, double cropping could become an even more accessible tool. Congress should instruct the USDA to continue to expand and streamline the number of double crop eligible counties.