By Lauren Latchford, Policy & Impact Manager, Finless Foods
From June 6-8 (2023) Finless Foods celebrated World Ocean Day at Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) by spreading the word on how we create a future for seafood where the ocean thrives. Similar to last year, Finless participated in CHOW by speaking on panels, attending Congressional meetings, serving our plant-based tuna at the annual CHOW gala, and taking part in the many ocean-related festivities.
But, uniquely, this year we spent our World Ocean Week talking about agriculture.
Do you mean aquaculture?
No, we mean the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill is a law that is typically renewed every five years and is the primary policy and funding bill for several agricultural and food programs. Since its inception in the 1930s, Congress has enacted 18 farm bills. The Farm Bill originally started as a bill focused on staple commodities— corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, peanuts, dairy, and sugar. But since 1973, the Farm Bill has been expanded to include nutrition, horticulture, bioenergy, conservation, research, and rural development.
Members of Congress (and their staff) who sit on the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry draft the Farm Bill. The initial draft bill includes mandatory and discretionary programs, and many members of Congress provide their thoughts on what the bill should include. Both committees draft their versions of the bill, and when it is complete, they bring it to their respective Senate and House floors for debate, revisions, and a vote. Then, a small group of members of the two committees (called the conference committee) come together to combine the two bills into one, and the bill moves through Congress the same way as any other legislation would move. Ideally, this all happens before the previous Farm Bill expires.
So if the Farm Bill passes this year, it will run from 2024 to the end of 2029, which is when many of our domestic and international climate commitments need to be met. This Farm Bill will be critical to deciding how our country will invest in technologies to ensure food security, build climate-resilient food systems, and diversify our food choices. If Congress can create enabling mechanisms and incentives for climate-resilient agricultural practices in the Farm Bill, then the U.S. can take the necessary steps to meet many of our climate targets.
As a cellular agriculture company and seafood company, Finless spent World Ocean Week highlighting our Farm Bill priority, by asking Congress to consider including low-interest and guaranteed loan programs that can help support the expansion of all aspects of the food system. As agencies like USDA administer programs to help diversify and strengthen the food supply chain, we urge Congress to consider seafood and new and innovative technologies in the seafood industry as critical components of the food system.
The Farm Bill dictates what our current food system looks, doesn’t, and, most importantly, what it will look like. These types of low-interest and guaranteed loan programs can give wild capture, aquaculture, and cell-cultured seafood companies access to much-needed capital to build new facilities, expand old ones, scale technologies, increase production, and implement climate-resilient, stable, and secure food systems.
We hope that with this 2023 Farm Bill, we can secure a place for scaling innovative technology and production, including seafood, so that wild-capture, aquaculture, and cell-cultured seafood can play an equal role in the U.S. food system.