Weekly Sustainable Agriculture Policy Update 7/19-7/23

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) TAKE ACTION Tell Congress That You Want A Fair Deal For Farmers and Ranchers: Farmers and ranchers who raise livestock and poultry need your help to get a fair deal and a level playing field with meat and poultry processors.  USDA released proposed rules to strengthen and clarify the protections for the nation's farmers and ranchers provided in the Packers and Stockyards Act.  But some members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee made crystal clear that they were firmly allied with large corporate packers and processors and had little concern, and even contempt, for farmers and ranchers. On July 23, NSAC joined with over 65 farmer, rancher, rural and sustainable agriculture groups on a letter in support of the USDA proposed rules, addressed to the House Agriculture Committee and delivered to members of Congress. THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS Specialty Crop and Organic Producers Testify On Wednesday, July 21st the House Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a hearing to review specialty crop and organic programs in preparation for the 2012 Farm Bill.  NSAC hosted Margaret Smith, from Ash Grove Farm in Iowa and Extension Agent at Iowa State University (ISU), as the sole female and organic producer voice on the panel of witnesses.  Click here to view her testimony. House Committee Looks at USDA Rural Development On Tuesday, July 20, the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Development, Biotechnology, Specialty Crops, and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to assess progress on Rural Development program implementation and hear ideas from the field in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.  NSAC was invited to provide a witness on the panel, a seat at the table filled very well by Van Ayers (click here to read his testimony), who sits on the Board of one of NSAC's member groups, the Delta Land and Community in Arkansas. NSAC Sends Letter to White House and Congress Opposing Conservation Cuts On Wednesday, July 21, NSAC, along with over 70 other farm, conservation, and environmental organizations sent a letter to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and a letter to President Obama expressing strong opposition to any use of farm bill conservation program funding as an offset to pay for improvements to school meal programs. Revised Chart on FY 2011 Ag Appropriations With both the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Senate Appropriations Committee now having taken action on their Fiscal Year 2011 agricultural spending bills, NSAC is posting a revised version of its annual agricultural appropriations chart to our website.  The chart provides detailed funding level decisions on a program-by-program basis for about 40 USDA programs that we follow closely each year. Senate Deliberates On Rural Development and Energy in the Farm Bill On Wednesday, July 21, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry convened to hear from several witnesses regarding rural development and the farm bill.  The hearing centered on the potential benefits of alternative fuels production and research both for developing rural communities and for strengthening national security. Ad Calls for Urgent Action on Child Nutrition Bill On Wednesday, July 21, a full page Feeding America advertisement appeared in CQ Today and Roll Call, two Capitol Hill publications, urging Congress to pass a "robust, well-funded child nutrition bill this summer." USDA NEWS USDA Boosts Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers The USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO) is requesting a second round of applications for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program (OASDFR), a program that seeks to ensure equitable participation in USDA programs for minority producers.

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