2013 Farm Bill: The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act

by Catherine Haug, May 11, 2013

Last year, our nation’s legislators worked on a new farm bill that showed much promise for organic farmers and small, family farmers. But in the end, it ran into strong resistance in the House, so instead of passing the bill, the 2008 Farm Bill was extended until September 2013. (6)

This gives us another opportunity to provide more support for small local family farmers and organic farmers that were either not included in the 2012 Senate bill, or were in danger of being stripped from the bill in the House. The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act has been introduced  in the Senate by as S.679,  by Sherrod Brown, and in the House as H.R.1414, by Chellie Pingree (3).

In general, a farm bill “dictates how we grow food, support farmers, sell food, and take care of hungry people with food assistance programs.” (1) It also plays a big role in what is considered ‘healthful’ food for our families, by subsidizing or insuring certain crops, and through the USDA’s food pyramid/food plate icon. See also my earlier post about the 2012 farm bill: On Small Farms and a Sustainable Food Supply and a related article A Powerful vision for U.S. Agriculture.

Read on for more information about what is included in the 2013 Farm Bill.

The 2012 & 2013 Farm Bills

Good things in 2012 Farm Bill

These items remained in the final Senate bill but were in danger of being stripped in the house: (2)

  • Eliminated direct subsidies for certain crops (previously subsidized crops included soy and corn, which are also GMO crops), and expanded crop insurance (note, however, that the previously subsidized crops are the ones protected by crop insurance);
  • Streamlined programs by consolidating them;
  • Increased support for farmers markets and food hubs;
  • Expanded block grants to states, to support research and promotion of specialty crops (primarily fruits and vegetables), and provided assistance for organic farmers

(See Summary of senate farm bill 2012 and 2012 Farm Bill: 15 Key Points You Need To Know for more information and detail).

The 2013 farm bill: Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act

This bill will:

  • Increase support for farmers who are growing organic and sustainably produced fruit, vegetables, meats and other healthy foods for local and regional markets; (1)
  • Increase access to these healthy foods in underserved communities; (1)
  • Improve federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems (3)
  • Help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs; (3)
  • Assist consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct and retail markets; (3) and
  • Provide more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, and invest in the local agriculture economy. (3)

For much more detail see Environmental Working Group: Worth Protecting; Farm Bill 2013 (4) and click on the icons for the following topics:

  • EWG Farm Bill 2013 Platform
  • EWG Farm Subsidy Database
  • Worth Protecting: Our Land, Our Food, Our Water
  • The Case for Crop Insurance Reform
  • Direct Payments
  • Farm Bill Politics


  1. Farm Bill Update: the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act
  2. Senate passes Farm Bill that eliminates crop subsidies
  3. SustainableAgriculture.net: Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013
  4. The Healthy Farm: A Vision for U.S. Agriculture.
  5. Environmental Working Group: Worth Protecting; Farm Bill 2013
  6. Wikipedia: [History of] 2012 U.S. Farm Bill

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