• 10Oct

    Beginning Farmers and the Impact of the Farm Bill

    In Fall 2012, Congress allowed the farm bill to expire, and instead signed a farm bill extension into law. That extension expired as of October 1, 2013, independent of the government shutdown that occurred at the same time.

    The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is publishing a “What’s at Stake in the Farm Bill?” series “that focuses on ten of the stranded programs and how their expiration impacts farmers and communities throughout the country.”

    Their first post in this series is “What’s at Stake? The Next Generation of Farmers.”

    That’s you!

    Excerpt: As of October 1, Congress has once again allowed the farm bill to expire, and these programs are now at risk of becoming permanently “stranded” without funding.  These stranded programs impact over half of the agricultural sector – including fruit and vegetable, organic, renewable energy, livestock, minority, and beginning farmers – and invest in sustainable food systems, rural job creation, and the next generation of farmers.  Unless Congress takes action, these innovative and forward-looking programs will disappear.

    Read more from NSAC’s post here.

  • 08Oct

    NSAC On Making Land More Affordable for Farmers

    Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about a New York Times op-ed, which claimed farmland conservation efforts are not helping farmers who lack significant capital resources access good quality farmland with long-term tenure arrangements. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) also had something to say about this op-ed (the National Young Farmers Coalition, the organization that released the op-ed, is an NSAC member). So, I wanted share what they had to say with you.

    Of particular note, NSAC highlights opportunities to help make farmland more affordable for beginning farmers in the Farm Bill. “The Senate version of the farm bill currently being debated in Congress includes provisions that would focus federal conservation easement program dollars to easements that protect farm viability for future generations.”

    Read more from NSAC here.

  • 30Sep

    What Are You Hoping to See in the 2013 Farm Bill…

    If there ever is a 2013 Farm Bill!?

    If you’re reading this on September 30, 2013, it seems fairly safe to say: “The Farm Bill expires tomorrow.” Or, to be precise, the current extension of the Farm Bill expires tomorrow.

    Technically, we should have had a new bill in 2012. But, when efforts on the 2012 Farm Bill failed, Congress passed a one-year extension, which kept parts of the bill intact, and left some programs in the lurch. Now fall 2013 and still no Farm Bill, and the extension is about to expire.

    What does this mean?

    It means you’ve had plenty of time to think about the Farm Bill! So, what are you hoping to see, or not see, in the 2013 Farm Bill, if there ever is one? Have you been following the politics of the bill? How does the bill impact you, your family, and your community? Are you familiar with the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act?

    Let us know what you think in the comments section, or on facebook.

  • 23Sep

    House Republicans Pass Farm Bill Nutrition Title

    Will there be a comprehensive new farm bill before expiration? Probably not.

    Will there be a new five-year farm bill this year? The likelihood of this happening increased on Thursday, September 19, when the House passed a farm bill nutrition title. There is now a chance a comprehensive new farm bill could emerge.

    But it is unlikely an agreement will be reached before the expiration of the current farm bill extension on September 30.

    What about the nutrition-title that just passed? The bill passed by a narrow margin – 217-210 – only garnering Republican support (though some GOP members joined Democrats in opposing the bill). The basic stipulation of the nutrition-title that passed the House is that about $40 billion dollars in food stamp benefits would be cut over 10 years, and some of the rules about how food stamp money is allocated and governed would be altered.

    It seems that every farm and food group (and beyond) had something to say about the nutrition bill. Keith Good at farmpolicy.com offers a round-up of all of these statements, while also providing a helpful synopsis of what the bill says, and what the implications are for food and farm policy.

  • 13Sep

    Congress is back in session. Will there be any movement on the Farm Bill?

    What will the impact be on beginning farmers?

    Congress returned to Washington this week after its recess, during which, little progress was made on the farm bill. Last week, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reported that the debate on Syria should take at least this week, if not more, which will delay action on the farm bill and agriculture appropriations bill.

    The current farm bill extension expires at the end of September. And it does not appear likely a new farm bill will emerge prior to expiration. So, what’s going to happen if the farm bill expires? Expiration means different things for different programs. Some programs which have ongoing farm bill funding would lose the ability to spend funds if the farm bill expires; these programs include the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and many of the major agricultural export programs.

    Some programs were excluded from the current farm bill extension; these programs would continue to be out of business if a new farm bill is not signed into law. These farm bill programs include programs for rural development, renewable energy, beginning farmers, minority farmers, organic farmers, and specialty crop farmers, as well as disaster assistance for livestock producers.

    Read more »

  • 02Aug

    Farm Bill Updates from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, August 2nd, 2013

    Moving toward the Brink as They Head out of Town: Just when you think things cannot get any worse for the farm bill and for agricultural and other domestic appropriations bills, it does in fact get worse.  This week, both the House and the Senate were unable to proceed to a final vote on the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a bill known in Hill-speak as the THUD bill.   The acronym proved prescient this year, falling with a very resounding thud.  Read more…

    Conservation, Rural Development, and Fair Markets & Contracts – Groups Weigh In on Farm Bill: This week NSAC signed onto letters to Congress concerning conservation, rural development, and fair competition provisions of the House and Senate farm bills, ahead of what could still possibly be an August replete with Agriculture Committee staff meetings to begin to work out the details of a final farm bill.  NSAC was one of 20 national conservation organizations delivering a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, urging the two chambers to begin conference negotiations on a farm bill as soon as possible.  Read more…

  • 31Jul

    PRESS RELEASE (July 31, 2013) - Time is running out for lawmakers in Washington to pass a national Farm Bill before the current bill, a one-year extension of the previous measure, expires at the end of September.

    The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has rounded up hundreds of signatures from groups representing farm, food and conservation interests, urging legislators to act quickly and fairly to get the bill passed. NSAC policy director Ferd Hoefner is asking the House and Senate to work together to pass a Farm Bill that includes funding for farm, food and nutrition programs, commodity and crop insurance reforms, and conservation and rural economic development programs.

    “Whether that’s creating jobs in rural communities, or making sure that minority farmers get treated fairly by the Department of Agriculture, or that beginning farmers can get access to credit so they can into agriculture and start as new farmers,” those are all important, he said.

    The groups also want provisions removed from the bill they say would weaken protections for consumers and small farmers.

    According to Diane Conners, senior policy specialist with the Michigan Land Use Institute, a group which is one of the letter’s signers, small-scale farm operators and young farmers rely on programs offered in the Farm Bill.

    These include “things like micro-loans, and training and marketing plans, because a lot of the local food economy is built on a different kind of relationship than selling into the commodity markets.”

    Conners said the Farm Bill also helps support Michigan’s robust tourism economy.

    That’s “both in the sense that people like to visit the farms and taste the flavors of this area, but it also is something that is a signature part of our landscape,” she said.

    The U.S. House and Senate are expected to start their summer recess at the end of this week.

    More information is at MLUI.org and at SustainableAgriculture.net.

  • 27Jul

    Latest News from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: End of July, 2013

    Farm Bill and Agriculture Appropriations – Clear as Mud: The congressional month-long August recess is just a week away.  In more normal times, as those types of deadlines loom, deals get done on Capitol Hill.  Not so this year.  The path forward on a new five-year farm bill and on the set of appropriations bills to fund the government for the coming fiscal year are clear as mud.  With the federal debt ceiling to be hit this fall, it promises, sadly, to be another season of manufactured, interlocking crises in the nation’s Capitol.  Read more…

    Food Safety Comment Deadline Extended; NSAC Releases FSMA Issue Analysis for Farmers: Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new proposed regulations detailing standards for food safety on produce farms and in facilities that process food for people to eat.  The rules are not yet final, and FDA is seeking comments from producers, processors, and stakeholders to help shape the final rules before they become law.  All of these rules are part of FDA’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Obama signed into law in 2011.  Read more…

    Conservation Reserve Program Sign-Up Results: On Monday, July 22, USDA announced it is awarding new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts for 1.7 million acres starting on October 1.  There are currently 26.9 million acres enrolled in the program, but on October 1, 3.3 million acres are scheduled to leave the reserve.  Hence with today’s additions, it brings the total to about 25.3 million acres, the lowest total since 1988 when the program was in its infancy and the farm crisis loomed large.  Read more…

    Organic Research and Outreach in the North Central Region: The Ceres Trust recently released a report, Organic Research and Outreach in the North Central Region, that documents the growth in organic research, extension and teaching in the 12-state north central region, and includes state-specific details about student organic farms, certified organic research land and animals, sources of organic research funding, dissemination of organic research results through field days and peer-reviewed journals, organic education efforts of nonprofit organizations, and other relevant information.  Read more…

  • 24Jul
    chicken picture

    The question EVERYONE on the farm is asking…

  • 12Jul

    House of Representatives Passes a Farm Bill, which Excludes Nutrition Assistance

    The House of Representatives passed a farm bill Thursday, but with food stamp provisions removed. This is the first time a farm bill passed without the nutrition title since 1973. The nutrition title constituted about 80 percent of the cost of the House bill that had previously failed. Except for the removal of the nutrition title, as just noted, the bill that passed keeps changes from the version that failed last month.

    The bill passed by a slim margin, 216-208. No Democrats voted for the bill, and 12 Republicans also voted no; six Republicans and five Democrats were not present to vote.

    What does this mean for beginning farmers, or aspiring beginning farmers? It was potentially disadvantageous for beginning farmers that the bill had been hung up in the House. We reported on beginningfarmers.org on June 22, following the initial failure of the 2013 House bill, that “this is bad news, since the beginning farmer program is one of the many that has been unfunded since the 2007 bill expired last September.” Thus, passage of the House bill increases the likelihood a new farm bill will pass before expiration September 30, which may be good news for beginning farmers.

    Read more »

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