The latest news from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) featuring Farm Bill News, USDA News, and the latest on Beginning Farmer and Rancher Programs.
FARM BILL ACTION COMING SOON
The release of a farm bill means it’s time for grassroots action! Look to hear from us early next week with opportunities to speak out and help make the draft House Agriculture Committee farm bill work better for farmers and communities nationwide. Know someone else who cares about food and farm policy and wants to stay in the loop? Forward this email and encourage them to sign up for our email list now so they are ready for next week’s action.
FARM BILL NEWS
In the latest farm bill news, the House draft is clearly not a serious effort toward a bipartisan farm bill. By torpedoing decades of work by American farmers and advocates to advance sustainable agriculture and food systems, the Chairman has given this bill little chance of passing as written on the House floor. NSAC strongly encourages Chairman Conaway and the members of the House Agriculture Committee to work toward a bipartisan solution that will not just give lip service to America’s vulnerable families and food producing communities, but one that will provide real support to farmers, consumers, and our natural resources.
Many of the tiny but mighty programs are targeted toward strengthening local and regional food systems and ensuring that rural and food producing communities have the tools and resources to capitalize on farm-to-fork economic opportunities. Because most of these programs do not have permanent funding as commodity and crop insurance subsidies do, Congress must actively choose to refund them in each farm bill cycle in order for the programs to continue.
In total, the draft bill proposes to cut funding for working lands conservation programs by 25 percent ($4.3 billion) over five years and 20 percent ($7.1 billion) over 10 years, exclusive of final payments to existing CSP contracts. To put that figure in contrast, the 2014 Farm Bill cut the entire conservation title by $4 billion over 10 years.
The most concerning piece of the bill is the Chairman’s failure to include a majority of the innovative and impactful proposals included in the bipartisan Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (BFROA) co-sponsored by six House Agriculture Committee members and strongly endorsed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), along with our many members, partners and allies, have put forward many thoughtful recommendations on how the strength of these farm safety net programs could be retained and strengthened, while also making much-needed improvements that would increase program access, equity, environmental improvement, and accountability. Unfortunately, the Chairman’s draft bill fails to take advantage of this rare opportunity to turn the ship and modernize these important programs.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congress’s official budgetary scorekeeper, publishes its ten-year projection (baseline) for government spending. CBO’s baseline covers everything funded by the federal government – including farm bill spending. Published on April 9, 2018, CBO’s baseline will now be adopted as the official baseline for the 2018 Farm Bill. If the farm bill is not written and enacted into law this year, a new CBO baseline will be required next year.
NSAC joined with a broad coalition of farm organizations – including National Farmers Union, Rural Advancement Foundation International, and the National Young Farmers Coalition, among others – and agricultural lenders on a letter urging Congress to oppose a proposed across-the-board increase to Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan limits in the upcoming farm bill.
SARE is an incredibly unique program, the first within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to focus exclusively on sustainable agriculture. Since its creation, USDA has increasingly embraced sustainable agriculture’s methods as ones that are profitable, environmentally sound, and good for food producing communities. This year, as we celebrate SARE’s 30th anniversary, it is important for all sustainable agriculture advocates to engage in debate and dialogue about how we can continue blazing the path toward a more sustainable agriculture system over the next 30 years.
Learn more about farm policy and agricultural politics from beginningfarmers.org at https://www.beginningfarmers.org/farm-policy-agricultural-politics/