A message from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:
Unless the Senate acts to fix the situation next week, 2013 is on track to be the worst setback for sustainable agriculture in years. Opportunities for farmers to implement smart conservation practices will be severely limited. Training opportunities for the next generation of beginning and minority farmers will dry up. Microloans to the very small businesses that drive economic recovery in rural America will cease. Organic farming research and cost share funding will be greatly diminished.
What’s going on?
Back in the fall, Congress made a mistake that prevents farmers from signing up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year, leaving over 9,000 farmers high and dry.* And when Congress extended the old farm bill on New Year’s Eve, they left out dozens of critical sustainable agriculture programs – leaving them stranded without funding for the year!**
On Monday, the Senate will take up its own version of the bill to fund government programs through the rest of 2013 – and the Senate has a chance to fix the CSP mistake and to restore funding for key sustainable agriculture programs. But they’ve got to know these issues matter.
The House failed to include these priorities in the funding bill it passed this week – the Senate can fix this!
Don’t let Congress leave these programs stranded! Speak out today!
Please call your Senators:
An example message for your Senator is: "I am calling about the Continuing Resolution. Please tell the Senator to fix the Conservation Stewardship Program so USDA can hold a farmer sign-up this year. Also tell the Senator to support mandatory funding in the bill for the programs that were stranded in the farm bill extension, including [name a few of the "stranded" programs below that are important to you, your farm, and your community!].** These programs are important to farmers in Vermont, and they must be funded."
Making a call takes only a few moments – please call right now!
Thanks for all you do,
Sarah and Shavaun, The NSAC Grassroots Team
* The problem impacting the Conservation Stewardship Program is a technical error that is currently preventing USDA from conducting a 2013 sign-up for the program. This error can be corrected with a no-cost fix that will allow USDA to help farmers and ranchers install conservation practices this year!
** Some of the programs currently stranded without funding include:
- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
- Value-Added Producer Grant Program
- Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program
- Rural Energy for America Program
- Organic Agriculture Research & Extension Initiative
- National Organic Certification Cost Share Program
- Organic Production & Market Data Initiatives
- Farmers Market Promotion Program
- Outreach & Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers
- Conservation Reserve - Transition Incentive Program
[For full disclosure: this blog and RAFFL's New Farmer Initiative are funded by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program which is listed here as "stranded with out funding"]