Some of this may already be a little bit out of date, and I have blogged on aspects of it before. But there are several articles and resources here that are really worth checking out.
From Dave Murphy at Food Democracy Now:
It’s time to end the bureaucratic squabbling at the USDA and put beginning and minority farmers first. What new and minority farmers need most is access to affordable land — unfortunately USDA officials are stalling a potential solution.
A new program created by sustainable agriculture advocates in the 2008 Farm Bill, called the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Transition Option, offers incentives to land owners enrolled in CRP to sell or lease the land to beginning and minority farmers using sustainable or organic practices at the end of CRP contracts.
Currently, more than 4 million acres enrolled in CRP are about to leave the program and this land is badly needed by the next generation of farmers to overcome the greatest obstacle to new farmers – affordable land.2
Over the next 2 years million acres will come out of CRP as contracts expire and this land will become available to established farmers if the USDA does not act to implement the new rules that provide an incentive to land owners to sell or lease the land to young or minority farmers.
Unfortunately the USDA’s bureaucratic wrangling is holding up implementation of this vital program with an unnecessary environmental impact study, which, while relevant to general CRP, is inappropriate to include the Transition Option since the land is leaving the program. Leading sustainable agriculture and family farm advocates such as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Center for Rural Affairs are calling for an immediate implementation of the rules. Any further delay will deny beginning and minority farmers the access to the land they need in the next 2 years.3
Please join Food Democracy Now! by asking Secretary Vilsack to implement the Conservation Reserve Program Transition Option now.
Our nation’s beginning and minority farmers don’t have a moment to waste.
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team.
2. CRP Transition Option, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
3. USDA Delays Land Program that Enables Beginning Farmers, Des Moines Register, 10-11-2009