Here's a legislative update on the current status of beginning farmer programs as the Senate and House work on building a new farm bill (from our friends at the the Land Stewardship Project).U.S. Senate: Ag Committee passed a Farm Bill (Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012) in May and floor time is expected sometime before the July 4th recess, but nothing is for sure. Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP): Unfortunately, the program took substantial cuts and decision-makers failed to make policy improvements as were outlined in the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. The BFRDP was cut 47 percent on an annual basis from $19M a year down to $10M a year or $50M over 5 years. One good development for BFRDP was recognition of military veterans as an underserved population. Action: We believe there will be an amendment brought forward to increase funding for the BFRDP and some other rural development programs during the Senate floor debate. Advocates are hoping the final bill can include $25M a year ($125M over 5) for the BFRDP. We will keep you informed. U.S. House: Full Ag Committee work (mark-up) is expected in July, but again timing is still uncertain. Click "read more" to see the full post ->
On May 10, 2012 the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight and Credit held a hearing. Testifying was a beginning farmer Justin Doerr from Plainview, Nebraska. Doerr, who was supported by the Center for Rural Affairs, spoke about a number of beginning farmer topics at the hearing.
Action: The best way for House offices to help is by co-sponsoring the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. There are currently 24 co-sponsors.
BFRDP 2012 Request for Applications status: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has been notifying groups on the status of their proposals. A full list of awardees is expected in the coming months. The annual project directors meeting is being hosted this year by the Land Stewardship Project in Rochester, Minnesota during the month of December.
If you have any questions about this update or other beginning farmer issues, or would like information about how to take action, feel free to contact the Land Stewardship Project at 612-722-6377. Or contact Beginning Farmers.