June 30, 2011
It’s been a busy month at NSAC with four separate advocacy campaigns put in play.
On June 28th, NSAC and a broad coalition of farm, conservation, wildlife, and forestry organizations representing millions of Americans orchestrated a National Day of Action to protest huge cuts to farm bill conservation programs and an attack on local and regional food system development.
The agriculture appropriations bill the House of Representatives just passed slashes $1 billion from mandatory farm bill conservation funding and tells USDA to drop the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.
Senate phones were ringing off the wall on Wednesday with callers urging their Senators to protect conservation and local and regional food system development funding. The response was tremendous and we want to thank all of you who took the time to pick up the phone to protest these extreme and shortsighted cuts.
Still in play are two campaigns around the Agricultural Marketing Service plans to issue a National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA) and a Farm Credit Administration plan to be more responsive to the needs of small and mid-sized farmers and ranches producing for the local market.
Comments on the NLGMA are due on July 28th. The most powerful “Big Ag” players in the leafy green industry are pushing this agreement that would add a second and conflicting layer of food safety standards and audits on top of FDA food safety rule. It is a one size fits all rule with no alternative compliance measures for small and mid-sized growers of leafy greens. See our NLGMA action alert for more details and to submit your own comment.
Comments on the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) Rule are due on July 25th. The rule presents an exciting opportunity to help shape services and outreach to local and regional food producers. FCA is the federally chartered agency that oversees the nationwide network of locally controlled and borrower-owned cooperative lending associations that make up the Farm Credit System (FCS). FCS supplies nearly 40% of all U.S. farm financing and has the capacity to bring badly needed capital and services to local food producers, and to leverage other sources of capital for the task of rebuilding our local and regional food system infrastructure. See our FCA alert for more details and to submit your comment.
Last but not least, NSAC participated in a call in day aimed at pushing the Obama Administration to get its final livestock market competition and contract fairness rule out the door. One year ago the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration issued a proposed rule that would reign in some of the worst practices of corporate packers and poultry companies. Fair, open and transparent markets are essential to rural economic recovery but the rules appear to be stalled by the fierce and truth distorting lobbying efforts of Big Packers and Processors. More than 5,000 calls came in to the White House on June 20th telling the President that farmers have waited long enough for competitive markets and fair contracts. Thanks to all of you that made that call!