2012 Farm Bill Summit: The Road to Reform
January 18th, 2011
On January 12-13, NSAC hosted a 2012 Farm Bill Summit in Washington, D.C. The Summit brought together 125 participants representing 95 organizations, an impressive array of experts and activists engaged in furthering the aims of the public interest community in the next Farm Bill. Organizations included farm, conservation, rural development, public health, food system, faith community, and other groups working on farm bill issues.
The opening session of the Summit set the stage for the 2012 Farm Bill with a big picture view of the opportunities and constraints to achieving reform presented by Ferd Hoefner, NSAC’s Policy Director. Participants then broke into smaller groups for four rounds of concurrent breakout sessions covering twelve topic areas relevant to the Farm Bill, as well as a do-it-yourself set of breakout discussions to drill down deeper into topics already covered or explore new topics not included on the agenda.
The breakout sessions involved in-depth discussion of opportunities, challenges and proposals for the next Farm Bill. Participants in each session developed a roster of Farm Bill measures and initial strategies. The sessions also focused on building consensus and exploring areas for engaging in joint advocacy.
Topics explored included farm programs, conservation and energy, rural development, research, education, and extension, local and regional food systems, specialty crops and organic, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, agriculture of the middle, sustainable livestock, public health and nutrition, and competition and market concentration policy.
In the final Plenary Session, Summit participants reviewed the overall roster of Farm Bill proposals and strategies developed in each breakout session and looked at ways groups will continue work together on common goals.
NSAC thanks a generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, for providing the funding that allowed us to host the Summit without charging a fee to participants. The donation also enabled us to offer travel scholarships to grassroots organization representatives from around the country who otherwise would not have been able to attend the Summit. NSAC also thanks the Consensus Building Institute for its very helpful facilitation of the summit meeting.