A Northeast Farm Bill Agenda Released

by National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Last week, the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG), New England Farmers Union Educational Foundation, Wholesome Wave, and others released A Northeast Farm Bill Agenda: Priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill. Given the diversity of size, scale, and environment in the Northeast, coupled with high population density, the agenda outlines polices that would create better farming and food solutions for the region. The platform’s policy and funding priorities are broken into four categories: Economic Development and Local and Regional Farm and Food Infrastructure; Food and Nutrition; Conservation and Renewable Energy; and Research.

Certain key priorities from the agenda include:

– Improve crop insurance programs by making them more accessible and appropriate for various types and scales of farms; and extend conservation compliance requirements to all recipients of federally subsidized crop insurance.
– Reauthorize and fund mandatory competitive research programs including the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
– Establish a distinct, classical Seeds and Breeds program in USDA NIFA that focuses on the classical development of cultivars and breeds.
– Reauthorize and provide mandatory funding for the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach and the Section 2501 competitive grants program for organizations that provide farm and financial management resources to minority farmers and ranchers.
– Restore funding for USDA Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) oversight and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act.
– Ensure that farmers’ markets and participating farmers and CSAs can be equipped with cost effective EBT transaction processing capability.

The agenda also includes a list of current proposed legislation (marker bills) that reflects some Northeast priorities, as well as links to other organizations’ 2012 Farm Bill platforms and positions. Read the entire agenda here.

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