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Path to the 2012 Farm Bill: NSAC Releases 2012 Farm Bill Policy Platform

March 19, 2012

Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) released its 2012 Farm Bill policy platform, Farming for the Future: A Sustainable Agriculture Agenda for the 2012 Food & Farm Bill.  The platform is the culmination of two years of policy work with a broad, diverse coalition of over 90 grassroots organizations from across the country.  It reflects the real, urgent needs of farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs.

With a round of Senate Agriculture Committee hearings complete and House Agriculture Committee field hearings underway, Congress is currently working to write a new farm bill before the current one expires September 30, 2012.  The economic, environmental, and public health crises of our time demand decisive farm policy reform that will ensure a more sustainable future for American agriculture.  Adoption of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s 2012 Farm Bill platform will expand opportunities to produce good food, sustain the environment, and contribute to vibrant communities.

“Slow job recovery, a rapidly aging farm population, accelerating erosion and nutrient pollution, and atrophied regional food infrastructure can be viewed as a crisis or an opportunity,” said Susan Prolman, NSAC Executive Director.  “Done right, a new farm bill can be part of the solution, putting in place building blocks for a more sustainable future of thriving farms, healthy food, and strong communities.”

Farming for the Future spans nearly every title in the farm bill and reflects a comprehensive approach to farm policy reform that will –

  • Create jobs and spur economic growth through food and farms.  Local and regional agriculture creates economic opportunities.  NSAC supports policy that will improve processing and distribution infrastructure for such agriculture and expand access to healthy food for consumers, including underserved communities.  A sustainable 2012 Farm Bill will also enable small business development and revitalize rural areas through investments in training, technical assistance, and microcredit for rural entrepreneurs.
  • Invest in the future of American agriculture.  NSAC’s platform recognizes that agriculture is a growing sector of our nation’s economy, yet barriers make farming and ranching one of the hardest careers to pursue.  The 2012 Farm Bill should include policies that enable beginning and socially disadvantaged producers to access land, credit, and crop insurance; to launch and strengthen new farm businesses; and to receive appropriate training and mentoring will ensure that more people can start to farm and that the nation’s food supply remains viable.
  • Enhance our natural resources and improve agricultural productivity.  As stewards of 40 percent of the landmass in the United States, American farmers and ranchers are important managers of our natural resources.  Farming for the Future supports funding and strengthening working lands conservation programs to help producers protect and rebuild soil, improve water and air quality, and reverse habitat loss while maintaining productive farms and ranches.  Nascent policy should modernize the farm safety net and protect the productivity of agricultural lands by ensuring that producers avoid environmentally harmful practices when they receive crop insurance subsidies.
  • Drive innovation for tomorrow’s farmers and food entrepreneurs.  Investment in agriculture research is vital to continued productivity and innovation in diverse and expanding sectors of American agriculture.  A research policy that funds and strengthens successful programs for sustainable agriculture, organic farming systems, and specialty crops; addresses new research and data collection needs; and improves coordination on essential public plant and animal breeding efforts will foster the innovations that farmers and food businesses need to be successful.

NSAC supports renewal and reform of the farm bill in 2012, on schedule.  Congress will have to make tough choices to pass a farm bill that is forward-looking and fiscally responsible.  Our measure of success will be whether Congress invests in the future of farming – and adoption of the policies in the platform can help lead the way.

“Congress should not delay the adoption of a new farm and food bill.  It needs to do its job, this year, on time,” according to Prolman.  “The new bill, though, should be comprehensive and forward-looking, not a rush job that ignores the big issues in favor of short-term expediency.”

The full platform is available online.

Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers, Conservation, Energy & Environment, Farm Bill, Food Safety, Local & Regional Food Systems, Organic, Research, Education & Extension, Rural Development

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