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ACTION ALERT ARCHIVES
U.S. Senate Ag Committee on Fast Track with Farm Bill:
Shared by Land Stewarship Project on 4/16/12
The U.S. Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill will be introduced by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow in the next few days, and immediately following its introduction it will be marked up and voted on by the Senate Agriculture Committee. Changes to programs and funding levels are being floated — some not so good and some outright bad.
One high-quality program under threat is the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Passed in the 2008 Farm Bill with dedicated funding, this program helps resource groups and institutions assisting new farmers. (See background information below.)
Thousands of beginning farmers have received support though these Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funded projects. You probably know an organization or institution that received a grant or you know a new farmer that participated in a project. The program leverages that community-based support, which makes a huge difference for beginning farmers. It’s a great example of how public investments can stimulate the outcomes we want – more beginning farmers getting started and succeeding. That is something we all know we need more of.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program has no funding past 2012. As Senate Farm Bill proceeds, it is still unclear if any resources will be dedicated to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The only indication we have to go on is what happened in the proposed “Secret Farm Bill” within the failed Super Committee process last fall. In the “Secret Farm Bill” only $10 million a year was provided to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. That would be a 47 percent decrease compared to what was offered for the program this year and represents a massive cut to the program overall. We cannot allow this to happen in the Senate Farm Bill.
U.S. Senators need to hear from organizations and farmers about the need for making real investments in beginning farmer support. Ask your Senator to secure these resources that maintain and grow training and assistance for our next generation of American farmers and ranchers.
To contact your Senator, use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at: 202-224-3121.
Message: I want Senator __________ to make the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program a top priority and to ensure it is funded at $25 million a year in the Farm Bill. We need to invest in support for new farmers. Dedicate the funding and continue this new farmer support program as is. It does not need changes. It does not need tweaks. It needs funding.
When you call, it’s best to try and contact the staff member responsible for agriculture issues if you can. If they are not available, make sure to leave a message with the receptionist. Let them know what organization you’re with and where you’re from.
Additional Background on BFRDP:
One of the most successful beginning farmer and rancher initiatives out of the 2008 Farm Bill, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), provides grants to community organizations and educational institutions to assist and support beginning farmers and ranchers. Essentially, BFRDP matches federal resources with local, state and regionally based networks and partnerships to provide education, training and support for beginning farmers and ranchers.
The competitive grant program is administered through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and offered on a yearly basis. The 2008 Farm Bill provided $75 million in mandatory funding for the program over the four-year period from 2009-2012.
Entities eligible to apply for funding include: state cooperative extension services; relevant USDA, state, and tribal agencies; community-based and non-governmental organizations; colleges or universities (including community colleges, land grant institutions, etc); and other appropriate partners, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
To date, nearly 330 institutions and groups have applied for this program in just the first three years. However, program funding has only been made available to 32 percent of applicants who applied for funding. BFRDP has offered a total of 105 grants and nearly $53 million to awarded projects.
For more on the BFRDP and program analysis, see the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program: 2011 Progress Report.
Investing in the future of American Agriculture: Beginning Farm & Rancher Opportunity Act
Over the past year, beginning farmer supporters have advanced the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. This legislation has 20 House co-sponsors and 12 Senate co-sponsors and is authored by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) in the House and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in the Senate. Included in the legislation that supporters hope to cement in the 2012 Farm Bill are provisions aimed at:
For more on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act visit:
In the budget-cutting frenzy of the last two fiscal years, Congress slashed agriculture and conservation programs by over $1.5 billion! Your legislators are making decisions now about next year’s agriculture budget. Your action today will protect crucial conservation funding that rewards farmers for the environmental benefits they produce as well as the innovative research and development of practical tools and information family farmers need to remain competitive.
Much of the budget negotiations being done right now are behind closed doors and it is difficult to say how organic, sustainable agriculture and conservation will fare in the budget super committee process. Give your senators and representatives a call or email, and tell them that organic certification cost share, organic research and other organic focused programs are important to you and the small piece of the pie these programs represent, produces big results through promotion of organic agriculture. Conservation programs such as EQIP and CSP are also targeted, tell your representatives that we need to promote good conservation on our working lands, in order to have productive farmland now and into the future.Check out the Organic Trade Association website and the National Sustainable Agriculture Organization website for Farm Bill updates.
CALLS NEEDED NOW!
The Agriculture Committee Leadership has decided to write the next Food and Farm Bill by November 1st….Yes you heard that right, this wide ranging bill that usually takes over a year and includes public input would be done in 2 WEEKS! This would be the fastest food and farm bill decision-making process in history...and the least responsible.
Call your representative and tell them of your concern as an agricultural producer.
Thank you for taking action!
Ask your Two Senators and your Representative to Co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011!
Next week the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) will be joining members of Congress and other farm groups in introducing the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011 is a jobs creator that helps new farmers and ranchers get a start. This is a remarkable opportunity to break down barriers to entry and give real support to aspiring farmers across this nation. Over the last year, beginning farmers and ranchers, organizations that represent them, and legislators have worked together on this critically important Act.
We need support from as many legislators as possible, call today!
Comments Due - September 7, 2011
Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, protect our conservation programs. Help by calling NOW!
Click here to learn more about federal conservation programs that help you.
Comments Due - July 28th, 2011
Tell the USDA to Stop its 'Food Safety' Rule: Shut down the "National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement" -(NLGMA) before it shuts down small and medium farms.
Follow the link to comment:http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/big-ag-to-write-food-safety-rules/
Remember the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that passed last year? We won a hard fought battle, securing appropriate food safety rules for small-to-midsized farms and processors producing fresh, and healthy food for local and regional markets. This law will be implemented by one of the agencies with food safety authority - the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Now, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, an agency with no food safety expertise or authority, is proposing to establish a set of food safety regulations for leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, and cabbage) growers and handlers who sell into the wholesale market, called the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA). The rule adds a second and conflicting layer of food safety standards and audits on top of FDA food safety rules.
HOW TO COMMENT:
USDA is seeking written comments from the public on the NLGMA proposal by July 28. Write USDA today to urge them to reject this proposal.
Here are some suggested points to make:
Thank you for taking action!
Comments Due - July 25th, 2011
Help make sure your local farmers have the credit/loan resources they need to continue to grow the local food economy.
Your short written comments can make a big difference!
The Farm Credit Administration (FCA) is asking the public to comment on a proposed rule that, if adopted, would direct Farm Credit System lending associations to be more responsive to the credit needs of small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers producing for local and regional food markets.
Follow the link to comment: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/eat-locally-comment-thoughtfully/
Is supporting your local farmer by visiting your farmers market, CSA, food coop, or other local food source important to you? Well, this is an exceptional opportunity to make sure your local farmers have the credit/loan resources they need to continue to grow the local food economy.
The Farm Credit Administration is the federally chartered agency that oversees the nationwide network of locally-controlled and borrower-owned cooperative lending associations that make up the Farm Credit System (FCS). FCS supplies nearly 40% of all U.S. farm financing and has the capacity to provide millions of dollars in capital and technical assistance to local food producers, and to leverage other sources of capital for the task of rebuilding our local and regional food system infrastructure.
Ask the FCA to adopt this new rule and bring badly needed capital to small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers producing for the local and regional market.
Use the talking points below to compose your own comment. It is important that you put the comment in your own words and that you include a description of how the rule might impact you, your farm, or your community. Choose the talking points you feel most strongly about.