Are you ready for a busy fall season? We’re not just talking about an abundant fall harvest – it’s going to be a busy time on Capitol Hill, and we’ll need your voice to support sustainable farm and food systems more than ever!
Fall 2014 will bring with it a whirlwind of new federal farm and food policies – everything from proposals for new food safety laws and conservation programs, to bills that aim to bring fresh, local, and healthy food into our nation’s schools.
So…what should you expect to see this fall?
New Food Safety Laws: Proposed rules (draft regulations) for the Food Safety Modernization Act – the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938 – were first released by the FDA in 2013. The rules included new regulations for farms that grow fresh produce and for facilities that process food for people to eat. After NSAC read and analyzed the rules, it was clear they wouldn’t work for sustainable farmers on the ground. When we had the opportunity last year to tell the FDA that the rules as written were unacceptable, thousands of farmers, eaters, and experts weighed in with comments. The FDA announced in late 2013 that they would re-propose parts of the Produce and Preventive Controls rules, giving us a second chance to shape the rules so that they work for sustainable agriculture. The new versions of the rules will come out soon — we’ll need YOU to weigh in on the re-proposed rules and once again submit comments in support of sustainable farms and food systems!
Healthy School Food and Farm to School: Every five or so years, Congress rewrites child nutrition program legislation in a large, single bill known as the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR). A large part of CNR includes legislation for our nation’s school-based meal programs (think school breakfast, lunch, and snacks), of which farm to school efforts are an important piece. The current CNR – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – expires in September 2015, meaning that Congress’ work on the act and grassroots advocacy around it starts NOW. We have the opportunity this fall to encourage more investment in farm to school efforts across the nation – leading to healthier kids and stronger local farm economies! Stay tuned for ways to support this work!
Conservation Programs: Programs that reward farmers for their conservation efforts and help protect our nation’s air, soil, and water are a win-win for farmers and sustainability. Now, more than ever, those programs are facing a record-high demand. That’s why it’s important that the USDA hears from us this fall about how to make conservation programs work for farmers across the country. The USDA will soon release interim rules for the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the Regional Conservation Partnerships Program, three on-farm programs that are critical to improving and enhancing natural resources for farmers and future generations. We’ll need you to submit comments on these programs this fall – join us in supporting farmers who take the lead in sustainability!
Fair Competition for Farmers and Funding for Programs: When food and farming programs are passed through Congress that’s only the beginning – many of the programs still need funding though the annual appropriations process in order to get off the ground. This fall, members of the Appropriations Committee will make funding decisions that will affect the future of many sustainable agriculture programs; and, because of some awful language a few members of Congress snuck into previous funding bills, appropriators will also have to make critical decisions on protections for our nation’s independent livestock producers. We need to make sure that the next funding bill is good for farmers, food, and the environment! This fall we’ll need your help to tell Congress that a bill that limits common-sense fair market protections for poultry and livestock producers is unacceptable, and that we need a bill that provides full funding for conservation initiatives, beginning farmer support, food safety training, and rural development programs. Join us this fall to help shape the future of food and farms!
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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!
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