March 12, 2021
As a new Congress and new Administration begin moving forward their top priorities for the coming year, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition stands ready to engage our grassroots base to push for top issues – like climate change and COVID relief – facing farmers and food system leaders across our membership and the broader sustainable agriculture community.
Earlier this year, NSAC members convened virtually ahead of our annual Winter Member Meeting to debate and finalize key coalition policy and funding priorities for 2021. Attendance was robust as Members joined remotely and, in conversations expertly facilitated by Pat Fields of the Consensus Building Institute, adopted two grassroots policy campaigns (issues on which the entire coalition agrees to engage) – Climate Change and COVID-19 Pandemic Response – and one grassroots appropriations campaign – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
This year, NSAC’s climate change campaign will focus on building our farmer base to advocate for comprehensive climate policies that build a more sustainable and resilient food and agricultural system that ensures all farmers are doing their part to mitigate climate change. A key focus of our campaign will be working with champions in Congress to introduce and gain widespread support for the Agriculture Resilience Act which provides comprehensive solutions to how farmers can help respond to the climate crisis. We will also be working closely with the new Administration to implement policies and new initiatives that centers climate change across USDA programs and actions.
While the light at the end of the tunnel may be near, there is no doubt that farmers, rural communities, and food system infrastructure will continue to struggle from the impacts of the prolonged COVID-19 crisis. This year, NSAC will be mobilizing our members to engage with USDA to ensure any further relief efforts (such as those recently passed by Congress), reach all farmers impacted by the pandemic – including small-scale, BIPOC, beginning, and farmers serving local, regional, and value-added markets like organic and grassfed. We will also be continuing to work with champions in Congress to push for further reforms to rebuild our food system – such as those included in the Strengthening Local Processing Act.
NSAC’s top funding priority for this year will be securing full funding for USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. For over 30 years, SARE has served as the only farmer-driven research program with a clear and consistent focus on sustainability. Farmers and ranchers help guide SARE’s research priorities, ensuring that the program is constantly responding to the challenges that producers face in their fields every day, including climate change. This year, we will be mobilizing our members across the country to push Congress to scale up funding for SARE to $60 million for Fiscal Year 2022, with a major focus on helping farmers to address the climate crisis.
The Coalition also identified several additional annual and multi-year policy issues on which NSAC members will engage, as well as a list of other key funding priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2022. NSAC’s complete list of 2021 priorities is included below.
Categories: General Interest