Farm Bill: The Time to Act is Now
The Farm Bill is a large piece of legislation that is renewed every 5 or so years. It includes funding for a wide range of programs (SNAP, crop insurance, conservation, local food promotion, farmer training, and more) that impact everyone in the United States. This year, The Farm Bill is up for renewal and its current draft would fail family farmers and ranchers, hungry Americans, and the environment. It is important that we all take the time to reach out to our Congress people and ask them to support a stronger Farm Bill for farmers, ranchers and consumers.
When writing or calling your congress people, please consider the following:
Restoration is needed of the Following Programs (these programs were eliminated in the 2018 draft Farm Bill):
• National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), an effective program to help farmers offset the cost of organic certification.
• Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG), which help farmers diversify their revenue streams and grow their businesses to meet local demand.
• Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), which builds out local direct-to-consumer markets and has created opportunity for farmers across the country to expand their businesses.
• Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest conservation program and only comprehensive conservation program offered through USDA.
Expressed Support is needed for the Following:
• Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Helps address the unique barriers and challenges faced by new farmers.
• Increased funding for Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) which funds projects enhancing farmers’ to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products.
• Maintained funding for Specialty Crop Block Grants which seeks to enhance the market competitiveness of specialty crops (aka fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds).
• Improved funding for the Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentives (FINI) program, which expands low-income Americans’ ability to purchase fresh produce at places like farmers’ markets.
Information gathered from: National Farmers Union, National Young Farmers Coalition
Write your Congress members today to advocate for a stronger Farm Bill!
If you need help crafting a letter or email, consider using the following script for inspiration (courtesy of the National Farmers Union). Note that your emails, phone calls, or letter are more effective if you add a bit of your own personality and perspective.
Dear (Senator or Representative) _______,
My name is _______, and I am from _______. I’m calling (writing) because I’d like (Senator or Representative) _______ to support a stronger Farm Bill. The current version in the House falls short of the sort of support that farmers and consumers need right now.
• Farmers need a stronger safety net because they are dealing with a five-year, fifty percent drop in profitability.
• We need strong conservation programs to support farmers in protecting our land and water.
• We need strong market access and fair markets for family farmers and ranchers
• We need strong nutrition programs to make sure our most vulnerable can afford to eat and feed their children.
• Lastly, farmers over the age of 65 now outnumber farmers under 35 by a margin of six to one. We need strong programs to support the next generation of farmers to secure our food supply and take care of our land.
I’m going to keep close attention to whether or not you support a strong Farm Bill. Please keep me up-to-date on your efforts.
(Your name) ________
Kelly Wilson is the SE Michigan Local Food Coordinator for TLD. She is an operator of Simple Gifts Farm, near Flint, and a registered Dietitian. Contact her at [email protected]