Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR)
Call your Representative and Senators Boxer and Feinstein to pass the new US Farm Bill this week!
Californians for Pesticide Reform joins our allies in the California Coalition for Food and Farming and the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition urging the House and Senate members to pass the new farm bill when it reaches the floor of both chambers this week. Please call your U.S. Representative and Senators Boxer and Feinstein immediately to ask them to pass the new Farm Bill.
Overview of current bill:
The new farm bill would be a major step forward for working lands conservation, beginning and minority farmers and ranchers, organic production and research, production contract reform, and local and regional food systems. Unfortunately, the bill fails to advance structural reform to defend family farms or to invest in rural economic development.
Even with the bill’s enormous shortcomings, the advancements it contains make it a substantial improvement over the 2002 statute. The significant investments that the new farm bill makes in working lands’ conservation, beginning and minority farmers and ranchers, organic production and research, and local and regional food systems are important, vital steps towards building a healthier, more equitable farm and food system.
Specifics included in the final bill:
• The new, retooled Conservation Stewardship Program (formerly Conservation Security Program) now slated to receive over $4 billion over the next four years and over $12 billion in the next ten years, at which point in time it will have enrolled an estimated 115 million acres in effective conservation on working farm and ranch land. The CSP encourages farmers to improve their conservation effort in a comprehensive manner to protect water quality, store carbon in soils, add wildlife habitat, conserve water, and save energy. The new CSP is revised to be nationwide (not limited to particular watersheds), with streamlined provisions and payment structure, higher environmental standards, special outreach for organic producers, special supplemental payments for resource-conserving crop rotations, and a continuous sign-up process.
• A brand new allocation of $75 million in mandatory farm bill funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, marking the first time beginning farmers are receiving direct farm bill support. The bill makes a similar $75 million investment in the Socially Disadvantaged Farmer Outreach Program. The bill reduces interest rates on Beginning Farmer Down Payment loans, modernizes real estate and operating loan limits, provides higher conservation payment rates for beginning and minority farmers, and provides for a new Conservation Reserve Program Transition Program for beginning and minority farmers. The tax portion of the farm bill also includes significant improvements to the first-time farmer “aggie bond” program.
• A five-fold increase in funding for organic farming research and extension, to $78 million over 4 years, as well as a nearly five-fold increase in organic certification cost share assistance to $22 million, first time farm bill funding for a $5 million organic data collection effort, and a new option within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for transitioning to organic farming. All of this is mandatory farm bill funding.
• New local and regional food system initiatives, including support within the Value-Added Producer Grants program for new local and regional food supply networks, a new federal loan guarantee for food enterprises that support local and regional food systems, and $33 million in mandatory federal funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The Value-Added Producer Grants program and the new Rural Micro-enterprise Assistance Program both received $15 million in mandatory farm bill funding, far less than SAC hoped for. Both programs, however, will likely also receive discretionary funding support in agriculture appropriations.
• New national public research priorities in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (the new farm bill’s combined successor program to the National Research Initiative and the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems) include small and medium-sized farm profitability, rural entrepreneurship, conventional/classical plant and animal breeding (including for sustainable and organic systems), agro-ecosystems, and sustainable energy.
• A reduction in the payment limitation for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from $450,000 each six years to $300,000 each six years. Waivers may be granted back up to $450,000, but only for projects of special environmental significance. Advocacy groups will be watching very closely to ensure that capital construction cost subsidies to large-scale industrial livestock feeding operations (CAFOs) do not qualify as having special environmental significance.
Please call your U.S. Representative and Senator Boxer 415-403-0100 and Senator Feinstein 415-393-0707 today urging their vote for the new Farm Bill when it reaches the floor this week. See sample phone rap and email below.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact Tracy Lerman, Policy Program Assistant, Organic Farming Research Foundation at 831-426-6606.
SAMPLE PHONE RAP to [Your US Representative]
Hello, My name is [your name] and I live in Senator/ Rep. [name of your US Rep.] district in [city/town] CA. I am calling to urge Senator/Rep. [name of your US Rep.] to pass the new US Farm Bill when it reaches the House/Senate this week. Can I count on my Senator/Representative to support the new farm bill this week?
RE: Please help pass new US Farm Bill this week!
Dear [Your Senator/Representative],
I am writing to urge [Your Senator/Representative] to support the new US Farm Bill when it reaches the Senate/House this week. Even with the bill’s enormous shortcomings, the advancements it contains make it a substantial improvement over the 2002 statute. The significant investments that the new farm bill makes in working lands conservation, beginning and minority farmers and ranchers, organic production and research, and local and regional food systems are important, vital steps towards building a healthier, more equitable farm and food system.
[insert your thoughts why this is important to you]
[YOUR NAME, TITLE, ORGANIZATION]