The Nation Family Farm Coalition applauds the US House of Representatives’ passage of the Build Back Better Act today, and urges the US Senate to follow suit as quickly as possible. The $1.9 trillion package invests almost $90 billion in rural and agriculture programs and initiatives to combat climate change, address rural disinvestment, and promote racial, economic, and environmental justice.
Approximately $28.29 billion are set aside for agricultural conservation investments, $2 billion for agricultural research and infrastructure, $27.15 billion for healthy and resilient forests, and $18 billion to ensure access to clean water and stable renewable energy in rural, tribal, and insular communities.
Especially significant to NFFC are $12 billion in debt relief funds for economically distressed farmers and outreach, education, and technical assistance for at-risk producers. While this is offset by $6 billion in funding in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), it reflects proposals in the Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act which NFFC has collaborated with Congressional champions to advance since March 2020 and endorsed last summer.
Another milestone is an immigration permit program that would authorize Dreamers, farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status holders and other undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for more than 10 years to stay and work lawfully without the fear of deportation.
The bill will be financed, in part, by a 15 percent minimum tax on the corporate profits that large companies (with profits more than $1 billion) report to shareholders, not to the Internal Revenue Service. The bill also includes a 1 percent surcharge on corporate stock buybacks and a 15 percent minimum tax that American companies pay on profits achieved outside the US.
NFFC sees these historic investments to enhance farmer economic resilience, address the climate crisis, and bolster the nation’s social safety net as a long overdue starting point. Rural communities need this as a positive first step toward strengthening our food-fishery-farm system leading into the next Farm Bill.