Agriculture production that is sustainable in the long-term relies on diverse crop rotations, increased use of perennial species, and the integration of livestock in pasture-based systems.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has consistently worked to include provisions in the farm bill’s research and conservation programs and in the rules and requests for proposals that follow that support systems used by sustainable livestock and poultry farmers, including rotational grazing and other systems that integrate crop and forage production with animal production on the same farm.
One example of this work was during implementation of the Conservation Stewardship Program after the last farm bill, when NSAC successfully increased the payment rate for cropland that had been converted to grass-based livestock production. While the environmental benefits of such conversions were clear, USDA nonetheless originally decided to make much higher payments for cropping the land than for keeping it in permanent grass cover, perversely incentivizing cropping and discriminating against pasture-based sustainable livestock producers. NSAC’s intervention successfully overturned this decision.
More recently, in the 2008 Farm Bill, NSAC successfully won:
- allowance of the Interstate Shipment of State-Inspected Meat which will encourage small-scale sustainable livestock producers and meat processors;
- new priorities in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative for classical animal breeding.
NSAC will continue to advocate for increased discretionary funding or protect mandatory farm bill funding for programs that particularly benefit sustainable livestock and poultry producers:
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program
- National Center for Sustainable Agriculture Information (ATTRA)
- Organic Farming Research and Extension Initiative
- Value-Added Producer Grant Program
- Farmers Market Promotion Program
- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
- Local and Regional Food Enterprise Loan Program
- USDA working-lands conservation program
In 2005, NSAC and its members completed a position paper on sustainable livestock called Reinvigorating Public Plant and Animal Breeding for a Sustainable Future