National Farm to School Month was designated by Congress in 2010 to demonstrate the growing importance of farm to school programs as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies and educate children about the origins of food. It’s a great time to help raise awareness about how farm to school benefits kids, communities, and farmers! Farm to school activities provide a variety of benefits to students, parents, schools, communities, and food producers, including:
Help us spread the word about the benefits of farm to school and the need for more support!
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 – and we’ll need your voice to support sustainable farm and food systems more than ever!
So…what should you expect to see this fall?
Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to fork. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938, and it includes new regulations for farms that grow fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and for facilities that process food for people to eat. This means it represents some big changes to our food system – and it is extremely important for the Food and Drug Administration to get these regulations right so that they improve food safety without placing an unfair burden on family farms. FDA has just released re-proposed “second draft” versions of these rules – and we’ll need YOUR HELP to ensure the rules allow and encourage safe food AND sustainable farms and food systems! We’re in full analysis mode now – look for news in late OCTOBER for opportunities to comment! In the meantime, check out our FSMA page to help you get informed on the rules and what they mean – and sign up below to be sure you hear the latest news and updates!
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!
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!
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!
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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