National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Releases its 2012 Farm Bill Platform
Lyons, NE - Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released its comprehensive 2012 Farm Bill policy platform, Farming for the Future: A Sustainable Agriculture Agenda for the 2012 Food and Farm Bill. The Center for Rural Affairs is a represented member of NSAC, and played an integral role in developing this platform.
“This platform includes a comprehensive set of farm bill proposals that will strengthen family farming and ranching systems, especially beginning farmers and ranchers,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director at the Center for Rural Affairs and member of the Coalition’s Coordinating Council. “These policies, if advanced, will help farmers and ranchers conserve soil and water, tap into high-value, niche markets; provide access to land and capital for the next generation of farmers and ranchers; level the playing field by capping subsidies to mega-farms and invest the savings in real family farmers and ranchers.”
The last several Agriculture Censuses demonstrated large drops in the number of younger farmers involved in farming or ranching as their primary occupation. According to Bruckner, the revitalization of rural America depends, in large part, on reversing that trend.
“The Congressional debate over these issues is underway, with both Senate and House Agriculture Committees currently holding hearings aimed at writing a new farm bill,” added Bruckner. “Past farm bills and the recent recession demonstrate the need for a farm bill that truly reforms farm programs and invests in creating real opportunities for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”
Farming for the Future spans nearly every title in the farm bill and reflects a comprehensive approach to farm policy reform that will –
Create jobs and spur economic growth through food and farms.
Invest in the future of American agriculture.
Enhance our natural resources and improve agricultural productivity.
Drive innovation for tomorrow’s farmers and food entrepreneurs.
- Make healthy food widely available today and for generations to come.
The platform document explains that the policy proposals therein are the culmination of over two years of policy work with a broad, diverse coalition of over 90 grassroots organizations from across the country. And it reflects the real, urgent needs of farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs across the country.
Of particular focus of the Center for Rural Affairs in this platform are the various provisions of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, a cross-cutting initiative aimed at helping the next generation of farmers and ranchers enter into agriculture.
During the first week of March, a cadre of young farmers, ranchers and military veterans traveled to Washington, DC to participate in a nationwide fly-in and grassroots lobbying effort spearheaded by the Center for Rural Affairs and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Justin Doer, a farmer and military veteran from Plainview Nebraska was one of the young farmers and ranchers lobbying in Washington and talking to lawmakers and USDA about the importance of programs that support the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
“We face a lot of barriers as beginning farmers as far as access to land and credit and barriers in crop insurance,” said Doer. “As a beginning farmer one way of getting a start is through niche markets and raising non-conventional crops, but it’s hard to gain access to crop insurance for that... that problem should be addressed.”
According to Doer, the Beginning Farmer and Ranchers Opportunity Act - a key element of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Farm Bill Platform - helps break down many of the barriers beginning farmers and ranchers face, including access to land and credit and barriers in obtaining crop insurance.
“And this legislation would include a provision that would assist younger farmers and ranchers that work with older producers in acquiring land, much as the Center for Rural Affairs’ Land Link program,” added Doer.
The platform can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/2012fbplatform.