Like every spring, this spring NSAC and our members will be working to strengthen funding for sustainable agriculture programs through Congress’s appropriations process. Stay tuned for details here.
Top appropriations priorities for sustainable agriculture this spring:
More on conservation programs:
We urge Congress NOT to limit mandatory 2014 Farm Bill funding for vital farm bill conservation programs, especially the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Farmers and the environment alike get a big leg up from conservation programs. Farmers count on them to conserve soil for future generations, keep our shared water and air clean, and create habitat for honeybees and other wildlife – all while farming profitably. A suite of distinct but interrelated farm bill programs — Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and others — work together to help farmers protect and rebuild soil, provide clean water and wildlife habitat, and supply other environmental benefits, while maintaining vibrant and productive farms and ranches. Congress must prevent cuts to mandatory funding for conservation programs.
More on sustainable agriculture research and education:
We urge Congress to fund SARE at $30 million – a slight increase over current funding and half the authorized level.
The Sustainable Agriculture Research Program (SARE) program is a highly cost-effective competitive research and outreach program that advances sustainable agriculture across the entirety of American agriculture. SARE is the only USDA research program with a clear and consistent focus on sustainability and whose research is exclusively farmer-driven. For over 25 years, SARE has funded the crucial on-farm research that farmers and ranchers need, giving them the tools they need to build environmentally sound and profitable farming systems.
More on technical assistance and outreach for socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers:
We urge Congress to fund 2501 at $10 million in discretionary funding in fiscal year 2017.
For decades, the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the Section 2501 Program) has served as the only farm bill program dedicated to addressing the specific needs of minority farmers and was recently expanded to also serve military veterans. The 2501 Program helps institutions and nonprofits provide critical resources, outreach, and technical assistance to serve these historically underserved producers.
However, the most recent farm bill that was signed into law in 2014 drastically cut mandatory funding for the program from $20 million to $10 million per year. Unfortunately, this significant cut in funding also accompanied a substantial program expansion to serve the needs of the influx of returning military veterans who seek assistance in pursing a career in farming.
This underinvestment in the Section 2501 Program will ultimately shortchange our nation’s most vulnerable and chronically underserved farmers and ranchers, and will slow the pace of progress and subsequent success of these farming operations, and thus, American agriculture as a whole. With additional demand for program resources from returning military veterans, it is essential that Congress scale up, not cut back, on support for our nation’s most underserved communities. We therefore strongly urge Congress to provide $10 million in discretionary funding for the 2501 program in FY 2017 in order to restore total program funding to previous total funding levels of $20 million.
More on food safety training for farmers:
We urge Congress to fund the Food Safety Outreach Program at $10 million in FY 2017 to help expand this new initiative so that farmers have the training they need to implement and comply with new food safety regulations.
In 2010, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – the first major overhaul to our nation’s food safety laws since the 1930s. Recognizing the importance of training as a part of a food safety system focused on prevention, Congress created a competitive grants program in FSMA, to be administered by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, to fund farmer and food processor training efforts. The Food and Drug Administration is in the process of implementing FSMA and finalizing new, expansive food safety regulations for farmers and food processors.
Great news! Today we are a HUGE step closer to helping 3 million more schoolchildren get involved in farm to school programs. That means 3 million kids could soon be eating better at school, digging into bountiful school gardens, and learning from local farmers where their food comes from.
Here’s what just happened: on January 20, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to send their draft Child Nutrition Act reauthorization on to the full Senate, and it includes 10 million dollars a year – doubled funding! – for farm to school grants nationwide, along with a host of fixes that will help the grant program work better for schools and farmers.
Can you help us THANK Senators who helped champion this issue and encourage the full Senate to move it forward? Use our handy tool to send your Senators a quick email!
Want to help support farm to school? Encourage your legislators to support passing a Child Nutrition Act this year that includes the increased funding and support for farm to school! Use the hashtags #CNR2016 and/or #farmtoschool!
Here’s what #farmtoschool looks like in action! @[Your Legislator], invest in our future & support #moreF2SinCNR
With #farmtoschool, our students enjoy eating healthy fruits & vegetables every day. That’s why we need #moreF2SinCNR
#Farmtoschool allows farmers like me to feed my community healthy, local food. I support #moreF2SinCNR
As a farmer, I believe in participating in #farmtoschool in [your community] because [your reasons here]. I support #moreF2SinCNR!
Congress: #farmtoschool is a win for kids, farmers & communities. Pass #CNR2016 with #moreF2SinCNR!
Kids in #farmtoschool are more willing to try new, healthy foods + do better in school #moreF2SinCNR
.@USDA #FarmtoSchool Grants helped +12K schools improve healthy meals. Let’s not stop there! We need #moreF2SinCNR
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!