2013 Farm Bill Action Update: 48 Hours…

After months of quiet on the 2013 Farm Bill front here in Washington, DC, things have changed – fast.
We’ve seen the House Agriculture Committee’s draft bill – and we’ve got a problem. 

2013_5-farm-bill-committee-markup

WHAT IS AT STAKE?

Conservation: Protecting our Soil, Air, & Water
One of the most important things the farm bill does is help farmers steward their land and protect our nation’s air, soil, and water.  But while some support for conservation was included in the bill, key pieces that farmers need were left out.  And, to make matters worse, they’re trying to gut basic protections for independent family livestock producers at the request of a few large corporate interests.

Local & Regional Food Systems
While some support for local and regional food efforts was included in the draft bill, key pieces that farmers and ranchers have asked for were left out.  Farmers are responding to skyrocketing demand for fresh, healthy food everywhere – at farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and in schools across the nation.  It’s time for the farm bill to catch up.  And, to make matters worse, they’re trying to gut basic protections for independent family livestock producers at the request of a few large corporate interests.

Economic Opportunities
The farm bill plays a huge role in fostering economic opportunities for farmers – and for rural communities across the country.  But they left out some critical pieces that directly help farmers and would-be entrepreneurs get access to the financing they need for their businesses.  And, to make matters worse, they’re trying to gut basic protections for independent family livestock producers at the request of a few large corporate interests.

WHAT ACTIONS CAN YOU TAKE?

FOR EVERYONE IN MICHIGAN & BEYOND:

Both agriculture committees are doing work this week! Need a little refresher on the sometimes-confusing Farm Bill process?  Want to watch the debate live?  Wondering what happens next?  Check out NSAC’s take action page! It is regularly updated with the latest information in an easy-to-understand format. Be sure to sign up for action alerts while you are there so you can get the latest updates by email – your address is used very respectfully! http://sustainableagriculture.net/take-action/


RESIDENTS OF MICHIGAN’S FIRST DISTRICT:

Today is our last chance to reach the House with a loud and clear message!

If you live in Michigan’s 1st District, your Representative is part of the House Agriculture Committee – and we’re counting on his support for conservation.  The committee will vote on amendments to the bill tomorrow, so Representative Benishek needs to hear from you today!

You can call your Representative to ask for his support on three amendments:  Nolan #58 and #59 and Kuster #28.  Rep. Nolan’s amendments will protect our nation’s air, soil, and water by increasing the enrollment cap for the popular Conservation Stewardship Program and streamlining the program’s ranking process to encourage more efficient conservation practices. Rep. Kuster’s amendment will improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program so that organic and transitioning farmers can better access the program.  

The message is simple, and it will take just a few minutes — call the number above and ask to leave the following message for your Representative’s agriculture legislative assistant:

“Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent and a voter (and tell ‘em if you’re a farmer!). I would like to leave a message for Representative ___’s agriculture staffer. Can you take a message for me, please?  The message is:  I urge the Representative to support three key amendments in tomorrow’s markup session:  Kuster #28, Nolan #58, and Nolan #59.  I also urge the Representative to stand up for independent family farmers and ranchers and ensure fair practices in the livestock market by opposing Conaway #5.  Thank you.”

We can’t emphasize it enough – the next 48 hours will have an impact on food and farms for years to come.  And we won’t get a better farm bill – and a better future for our nation’s food, farmers, air, soil, and water – without your help.  Make that quick call right now – and help us spread the word!

Thanks for all you do for better food systems in Michigan Communities!

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