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Support needed for Michigan rural farmers building up sustainable communities

Over the past three years, I have had the privilege of visiting numerous small farms in Northern Michigan and the UP. Rural agriculture thrives when we invest in programs that prioritize sustainability.

With approximately 8,000 farms, Northern Michigan and the UP produce a wide variety of crops and agricultural products, employing about 2.6% of the labor force. These farmers need our support to thrive in a challenging environment.

Northern Michigan's small farmers are leading in regenerative farming practices. By promoting natural processes, regenerative farming can reduce the energy and resources needed, making it an eco-friendly and sustainable way to produce food while supporting the environment.

Despite facing harsh weather and limited market access, these farmers are crucial for local economies and food security. The passage of the 2024 Farm Bill is vital for providing financial support, crop insurance, and market access, helping them overcome challenges and sustain their livelihoods.

Other reasons why the 2024 Farm Bill matters

The Farm Bill supports America's farmers, ranchers and forest stewards through a variety of programs that promote conservation practices, provide loans and grants, facilitate training and education and protect landowners from disasters.

Beyond that, the 2024 Farm Bill is also crucial for over 40 million Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

The program supports a diverse group, including seniors, people with disabilities, and children. Among the 22 million eligible adults, half work full-time, and 15% work part-time due to low-wage jobs, childcare, health issues, and limited job opportunities.

The remaining third face barriers like chronic health conditions, full-time caregiving, lack of job opportunities, and educational deficits. SNAP provides an average daily food budget of just $6 per recipient, essential for basic nutrition.

Notably, SNAP accounts for over 80% of the Farm Bill's total spending, highlighting its importance in addressing food insecurity.

Despite the need, lawmakers like Rep. Jack Bergman oppose high SNAP expenditures, advocating for cuts to curb federal spending. Cutting SNAP would force millions, including seniors, people with disabilities, and children, into deeper poverty and hunger. 

Lawmakers must instead focus on why so many Americans need supplemental nutrition assistance and address issues like low wages, inadequate childcare, and a lack of accessible healthcare.

It's time to take action and call your Representative and Senator to support the 2024 Farm Bill. Protect millions of Americans from hunger. Our voices matter.


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