HEAL Statement on House Democratic Principles for the Next Farm Bill

February 8, 2024: On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee Democrats published a memo laying out the principles the next farm bill should include to win the support of the House Democratic Caucus.

In response to the memo the HEAL Food Alliance issued the following statement:

The HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance is glad to see the House Democrats affirm their commitment to passing a strong and effective farm bill.  We’re glad to see a principled commitment to investing in sustainable agriculture, reducing hunger, and improving equity. However, in many ways, the farm bill is again shaping up to be business as usual. Since its inception, the farm bill has excluded people who work in our food and farm system from consideration in policy making. Without their inclusion, the 2024 farm bill risks once again benefitting a handful of powerful agriculture corporations who are using their power to roll back labor regulations at the expense of working people. 

Recent polling showed that majorities as large as 87% in Michigan and Pennsylvania and 80% nationally expressed support for more and better workplace protections for essential workers in the farming and food industries. That support holds regardless of whether respondents were Republicans (83%) or Democrats (91%), rural (87%), urban (85%), or suburban (85%). We urge the House Agriculture Committee to listen to voters, acknowledge working people as part of our agriculture system in the next farm bill, and to do what is within their power and to work with other agencies (DOL, EPA, etc) to ensure safe and dignified working conditions for farmworkers, meatpacking workers, warehouse workers, and working people across the food chain. 

As referenced in the memo, this farm bill must also be a climate bill that moves away from harmful industrial agriculture practices and towards regenerative practices that use traditional ecological knowledge. Polling shows that voters support investments that help farmers protect water quality and keep more carbon and nutrients in their soil. GA (86%), MI (88%), PA (88%), CO (86%). Majorities of voters in each state – as many as 68% in Michigan – and 66% of voters with a farmer in the house said water pollution caused by agricultural runoff is a threat to their state.

Moving forward, the Farm Bill must dedicate funding support for proven climate solutions, including regenerative agriculture, agroecology, and Indigenous food production methods. These approaches help restore soil, water, air, and biodiversity, as well as increasing carbon sequestration. At the same time, it must provide climate and other protections for working people who are vulnerable to heat stress, wildfires, flooding, and the whims of their employers.