Marker Bill Roundup, March 2021: Contact your members of Congress to support Black farmers, small meat processors, online SNAP, Farm to School, and more
*updated May 11th, 2021*
Marker bills are bills introduced by Congress that are not intended to pass as stand-alone pieces of legislation, but are used to build support for a policy or issue with the hope that it will be adopted as part of an omnibus bill. Commonly used for issues legislators want to include in the Farm Bill, they are currently being introduced to gain support for issues in other packages like pandemic aid, budget bills, and child nutrition legislation.
If any of the bills below resonate with your or your organization’s priorities or needs, please call your Members of Congress and let them know! Ask them to support the bill if they aren’t listed as a cosponsor, and thank them for their support if they have already sponsored the bill.
Reach your Members of Congress at the capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Sample call/email script:
My name is ______ and I am a ___________(introduce your org, farm, or why you care about the issue). I’m reaching out to let you know about [name of bill], [description of bill]. This issue is really important to [organization / farmers in our state] because [explain why it matters to you]. We hope [Senator/Representative _________] will show their support and become a cosponsor of the bill! Here’s a link to a press release about the bill. I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks to National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Rural Coalition for marker bill information
Currently introduced Marker Bills as of April 20th 2021:
Newly added bills are marked with a *
*Agricultural Resilience Act
Introduced by: Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
About: The agricultural sector contributes 10% of U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions. With the aim of reaching net-zero agricultural emissions by 2040, this bill focuses on six concrete policy areas and offers farmer-driven solutions rooted in science to help mitigate climate change and increase agricultural resilience across the sector. These goal areas include: (1) agricultural research, (2) soil health, (3) farmland preservation, (4) pasture-based livestock management, (5) on-farm renewable energy, and (6) food waste initiatives.
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: H.R. 2803, S. 1337
- Press: Rep. Pingree press release, Sen. Heinrich press release
- Introduced: April 22nd, 2021
Climate Stewardship Act
Introduced by: Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)
About: This bill supports agricultural practices that could mitigate climate change, invests in reforestation, and protects and remediates wetlands. On the agricultural side, it would increase funding for existing research, conservation, food systems, and renewable energy programs as well as provide resources for technical assistance to help farmers adopt new practices.
Farmers Fighting Climate Change Act
Introduced by: Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI)
About: Farmers Fighting Climate Change Act would direct USDA to create CSP climate bundles, or groupings of climate-smart conservation activities that would incentivize farmers to adopt a greater number of complimentary practices and create more competitive, higher-paying CSP contracts.
- Press: Rep. Underwood’s press release
- Introduced: April 12th, 2021
*Kids Eat Local Act of 2021
Introduced by: Sen. Brown (D-OH) and Senate Original Cosponsor Sen. Collins (R-ME), Rep Pingree (D-ME) and House Original Cosponsors Rep. Fortenberry (R-ME), Rep. Adams (D-NC), Rep. Harder (D-CA)
About: The Kids Eat Local Act will support farm to school efforts by making it easier for schools to source locally grown, locally raised and locally caught food and farm products for their meal programs. Current options for geographic preference in procurement are burdensome and confusing for schools. This bill would simplify the process.
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: S. 1401, H.R. 2896
- Press: National Farm to School press release.
- Introduced: April 28th, 2021
*School Food Modernization Act of 2021
Introduced by: Sen. Collins (R-ME), Original Senate Cosponsor Sen. Smith (D-MN)
About: This bill authorizes funding for schools to purchase equipment, improve kitchen infrastructure, and train staff to make it easier for schools to deliver healthy and fresh foods. Most schools reported needing school kitchen infrastructure improvements, even before the pandemic. The additional funding provided by this bill would ensure that schools can prepare healthy, nutritious and fresh foods for their students.
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: S. 876
- Press: Senator Collins press release
- Introduced: March 18th, 2021
Farm to School Act of 2021 (H.R. 1768)
Introduced by: Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1); Senators Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Brown (D-OH), and Sen. Collins (R-ME).
About: The Farm to School Grant Program offers federal support for US schools to plan and implement farm to school programs. This bill would raise the program’s authorized funding level from $5 million to $15 million, and increase the maximum grant award to $250,000. It would also expand the scope of the program to include preschools, summer food service programs, and after-school programs and would enhance access to tribal foods.
- Press: Plaskett press release, NSAC press release, NFSN press release
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: H.R. 1768, S. 1328
- Introduced: March 10, 2021
Food System Equity:
Justice for Black Farmers Act (S.300)
Introduced by: Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
About: This bill would begin to address the historic discrimination of Black farmers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by protecting existing Black-owned farmland, instituting USDA reforms, providing debt relief, and creating a land grant program to train a new generation of Black farmers.
- Press: Senator Booker Press
- Bill coverage from RAFI-USA
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: S.300
- Introduced: February 8, 2021
Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act (S.278)
Introduced by: Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
About: This bill would provide dedicated funding to relieve debt for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as over $1 billion to improve land access, address heirs property issues, establish an equity commission, and create a legal center to provide legal advice and resources to BIPOC farmers.
- Press: Senator Warnock One-Pager
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Bill Summary
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: S.278
- Introduced: February 8, 2021
Other critical issues:
Introduced by: Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and John Thune (R-SD).
About: This bill would support small meat and poultry processing plants’ ability to comply with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans. It also offers increased cost share for state meat and poultry inspection programs and expands the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program. This bill also authorizes a grant program to expand small plants, including small and very small federally inspected plants, for activities related to COVID-19 response and recovery, and an education and training grant program for colleges and universities to establish or expand meat processing training programs.
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: H.R. 1258 and S. 370
- Bill Summary from National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
- Introduced: February 23, 2021
Expanding SNAP Options Act (S.313)
A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to expand online benefit redemption options under the supplemental nutrition assistance program, and for other purposes
Introduced by: Senator Durbin (D-IL)
About: This bill would provide funding for the creation of a universal online and app-based portal to make online SNAP more accessible, available to more retailers, and easier to navigate for consumers.
- Press: Sen. Durbin press release
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: S.313
- Introduced: February 12, 2021
New Markets for State Inspection Meat and Poultry Act (S. 107)
Introduced by: Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Angus King (I-ME).
About: This bill would allow meat and poultry products inspected by Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)-approved state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines. Currently, there are 27 states with inspection programs "at least equal to" federal meat and/or poultry inspection programs.
- Press: Senator Rounds Press / Senator Tester Press
- See if your legislators are cosponsors: S. 107
- Introduced: January 28, 2021
Photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli