On November 3rd, 50 farmers and local food advocates from across the country traveled to Washington DC to meet with their Congressional members to advocate for the recently introduced Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act.
NSAC hosted the Local Farm and Food “Fly-in” at a critical juncture for agriculture policy, as the 2012 Farm Bill is in the process of potentially being rewritten a year ahead of schedule so it can be included in the Super Committee’s deficit reduction plan. The goal of this “marker bill” is for the policy provisions to be included in the finalized Farm Bill.
The farmers and advocates for local and regional food systems conducted 79 meetings with their Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill all in the span of one eventful day! In the morning, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1), who introduced the bill into Congress on November 1 along with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), spoke to fly-in participants about the importance of the bill. She noted that the development of local food systems is not a partisan issue; Members on both sides of the aisle have constituents that can benefit from stimulating farm income and job creation through the growing consumer demand for local and regional foods.
Afterwards, the participants spoke with their Members of Congress and staff members about the economic, social, and environmental benefits of local and regional food systems and about how their farms and local communities would benefit from the provisions included in the bill.
“I found the staff members we spoke with generally receptive and supportive of the ideas behind local food issues, wanting to support local economies through building local food systems. I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to get a good response from Washington. As a first experience advocating in the halls of power in Washington, I found the experience educational. I plan to make further contact with Washington to make my voice heard, and I encourage others with similar concerns about local food to contact their Members of Congress.” -Ron Meyer, Strawberry Hill Farm, Fresno, OH
“It’s a great opportunity to meet with lawmakers face to face to proactively advocate for sustainable agriculture, and we are incredibly grateful to NSAC for providing us with the chance to do so. We were able to clarify and explain the particular needs that a farm like ours has, such as making a real case for a shift in funding within farm revenue insurance priorities. Even in this chaotic farm bill process, we’re sowing the seeds for more sensible, sustainable farm policies that will produce better food for the future.” -Jack Hedin, Featherstone Farm, Rushford, MN
A special thank you to the following NSAC member organizations for their assistance with fly-in outreach and participation: Delta Land and Community, Market Forces, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Future Harvest, Land Stewardship Project, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, and Farmers Market Coalition.
Special thanks also to the following other organizations that helped in making the day a success: Environmental Working Group, Wholesome Wave, National Organic Coalition, National Family Farm Coalition, Community Food Security Coalition, National Farmers Union, Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware, Urban Growers Community Farm, Good Earth Food Alliance, Slow Food Boston, Slow Food Nebraska, New England Farmers Union, Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship, Snap Gardens, Feed the Forces, Piedmont Grown, and The Food Trust. A big thank you goes out to all of the wonderful participants!