Congress is making decisions this spring about how to fund agriculture programs for the next year – and they need to hear from YOU to support conservation, local food, and much more. Learn what’s at stake:
Our nation’s resources, food security, and agricultural productivity depend on wise investment in voluntary conservation. Farm bill programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) give producers the tools they need to provide clean water, protect soil, and enhance wildlife habitat – all while maintaining productive farms and ranches. This spring, we are asking Congress to make NO CUTS to these critical programs – conservation is a win-win for farmers and rural America and needs more funding, not less!
Training farmers and processors in food safety practices is a critical piece of ensuring a safe food supply. And new FSMA food safety rules from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are soon going to change how our nation’s farmers grow and sell their fruits and vegetables. Farmers of all sizes are having to adapt their operations to meet the new rules – and to do so, they need food safety training so they can continue bringing healthy food to our family tables. Providing training and support for farmers around new food safety rules is absolutely critical to keeping local food systems growing and promoting a safe food supply for all of us. This spring, we are asking Congress to provide $10 million in discretionary funding for the Food Safety Outreach Program.
Small-scale entrepreneurship is the one economic development strategy that consistently works in rural communities. Over half of all new jobs created in most rural areas come from small business ventures. The Value-Added Producer Grant Program helps farmers and ranchers develop new farm and food-related businesses that boost farm income, create jobs that can’t be out-sourced, empower local communities and increase rural economic opportunity. Unfortunately, federal funding that jump-starts entrepreneurial wins like these for communities is in jeopardy of being cut – or completely eliminated – this year. This spring, we are asking Congress to provide $15 million in discretionary funding for the Value-Added Producer Grant Program.
Research underpins every aspect of a successful and farming business, whether it’s a fifth generation commodity producer looking to add cover crops, or a beginning farmer interested in tapping into the huge unmet demand for grassfed beef. For nearly 30 years, SARE has been at the forefront of innovation in research and extension activities for profitable and sustainable farming systems. Some of our most basic sustainable practices, like the use of cover crops, started with small SARE grants and have since developed into mainstream practices adopted by thousands of farmers across the country! This spring, we are asking Congress to provide $30 million in discretionary funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.
Although federal resources are an important part of the farm safety net, military veterans and racial minorities have not historically participated in or benefited from USDA programs to the same extent as other farmers. This disparity disadvantages these farmers in both the national and global economy, and stifles the growth and prosperity of rural communities. There’s one USDA program that is specifically designed to help historically underserved farmers: the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program (also known as the 2501 program). For decades, 2501 has provided funding to community based organizations and universities to help them reach out to and directly assist African-American, Asian-American, American Indian, and Latino farmers; in 2014, the program was expanded to also serve military veterans entering agriculture. This spring, we are asking Congress to provide $10 million in discretionary funding for the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program.
First, determine if any of your Members of Congress sit on the House or Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
If yes: call their DC office and leave a message like the following:
Hi, my name is [ YOUR NAME ] and I’m a constituent and a voter (and tell ’em if you’re a farmer!). I’d like to leave a message for the staffer who handles agriculture appropriations, please. On behalf of [ YOUR STATE ], please ensure the Fiscal Year 2018 agriculture spending bill includes [ INSERT ANY OF THE ASKS IN BOLD ABOVE ]. Thank you for your time.
If you care about getting healthy food to everyone, protecting our natural resources, and supporting the next generation of American farmers, then you’ll want to get involved this year!