Summary of Action Alerts

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Amy Little
Date: Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 3:59 PM
Subject: [NEFOOD] revised FARM BILL ACTION Alert

FARM BILL ACTION April 24, 2012

IMMEDIATE and URGENT Farm Bill Action Needed TODAY!

The Senate Agriculture Committee released its draft of the 2012 Farm Bill and we have a very short time to respond. Tomorrow the Senate agriculture committee will vote on a series of amendments to the draft bill. Several organizations have issued action alerts. Below are the issues and asks from NSAC, NYFC, CFSC, IATP, NOFA-NY, and NYCFFBWG. Pick your issues and make the call!

Please call your Senators and activate your members.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-4451

Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (202) 224-6324

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (202) 224-4242

Issues and asks:

From NSAC:

NSAC is focused on Amendments and strategies for champions:

- Help more schools serve fresh, healthy, local food. (the Casey farm to school amendment)

- Provide critical support for beginning farmers and ranchers (the Leahy agricultural land easements amendment)

- Use a “sodsaver” provision to protect ranchlands and native prairie (the Thune sodsaver amendment)

- Ensure farm support goes towards working farmers by closing loopholes that allow corporate mega-farms to collect nearly unlimited payments (the Grassley payment limitations amendment

- Restore greater fiscal responsibility in farm policy by tightening income eligibility caps on commodity payments – and investing some of the savings into beginning farmer and rural entrepreneurship programs (the Brown-Nelson AGI amendment)

Northeast Senators most need to hear about –

Senator Casey – the Grassley payment limitations amendment (he’s already leading on farm to school)

Senator Gillibrand – the Thune sodsaver amendment (she’s already leading on a “seeds and breeds” amendment)

Senator Leahy – the Brown-Nelson AGI amendment (he’s already leading on another beginning farmer initiative)

When you call, simply ask for the staffer who works on agriculture, and deliver this message: I support sensible farm policy – it’s time for a better food and farm bill! Please support the [issue-specific amendment names/sponsors here] and the Brown-Nelson AGI amendment!

From Community Food Security Coalition:

Mandatory Funding for Socially Disadvantaged and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers:

“There were several successes for CFSC’s priorities including the reauthorization of the Community Food Projects program at $10 million per year through 2017 and an increase in funding and expansion in scope for the Farmers Market Promotion Program to $100 million over five years.

This draft bill, however, does not authorize mandatory funding for the 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program. The bill also reduces funding by $25 million for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). In the 2008 Farm Bill, both the 2501 program and BFRDP received $75 million in mandatory funding.

Call your Senators right now and ask them to:

Reauthorize the 2501 program and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program each at $75 million in mandatory funding. The 2501 program is essential for providing outreach and training for minority and limited resource farmers and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is needed to help support the new crop of America’s farmers.


Food Stamps

Tomorrow the Senate agriculture committee will vote on a series of amendments to the draft bill, including amendments that protect food stamps from cuts, help more schools serve fresh, healthy, local food, and help families receiving food stamps become self-sufficient.

Call Senator Gillibrand today (202) 224-4451:

1. Thank her for introducing the Gillibrand Amendment to protect children from SNAP cuts

2. Ask her to also support the Casey Farm to School amendment and the Brown Employment and Training amendment

3. Ask her to vote no on any amendments that cut SNAP

Call Chairwoman Stabenow today (202) 224-4822:

1. Ask her to support the Gillibrand, Casey and Brown amendments

2. Ask her to vote no on any amendments that cut SNAP

Call today – it’s easy and it takes just a moment to deliver this important message.


Beginning Farmers:

Because of the tight turn-around, Senator Gillibrand (member of the Senate Agriculture Committee) needs to hear from you today!

What to say:

Ask for the agriculture staffer, and deliver this message: “I support beginning farmers and would like to ask Senator Gillibrand to please support the Brown-Nelson AGI amendment and the Leahy Agricultural Land Easements for Beginning Farmers Amendment!”

More information on both amendments:

The Brown-Nelson AGI Amendment: Brown-Nelson AGI –this amendment will fund crucial BFR programs like BFRDP, RMAP, and IDAs. Reforming AGI Caps: Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Nelson (D-NE) will be filing an amendment to reform AGI caps.

Agricultural Land Easements for Beginning Farmers: Sen. Leahy (D-VT) will be filing an amendment to make farm viability part of the purpose of the program (formerly known as the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program) and to give authority to entities that implement the program to do so in a way that promotes farm viability and the availability of affordable farm and ranch land for future generations of farmers and ranchers.

Additional amendments:


No-cost amendment to support Farm-to-School initiatives: Sen. Casey (D-PA) will be filing an amendment to encourage purchases of local foods for nutrition programs. The amendment clarifies that a purpose of Sec. 32 funds is to support the development of markets for foods sold locally and regionally and to include geographic preference language from the 2008 Farm Bill in the Sec. 32 Fruit, Vegetable and Nut Purchase Program. The amendment will also modify the USDA Foods commodity purchasing program and the Department of Defense Fresh produce program to authorize School Food Authorities and other service institutions to use program dollars to make purchases of foods from local agricultural producers.


Payment Limitations and Actively Engaged: Sen. Grassley (R-IA) will be filing an amendment that will tighten payments limitations and close loopholes in commodity payment programs. This amendment will establish a measurable test to determine whether or not a farmer is actively engaged in the operation of a farm in order to qualify for commodity payments.


Sodsaver: Sen. Thune (R-SD) will be filing an amendment to prohibit commodity and insurance subsidies on all native prairie and permanent grasslands and other remaining native land without a cropping history if such land is cropped in the future. This provision, known as “Sodsaver,” was included in both the House and Senate versions on the 2008 Farm Bill, but was dismantled in conference and became a voluntary project that never got off the ground. Sodsaver would not prohibit farmers from breaking out native lands; it would only ensure that they do so at their own risk, not at the risk of the taxpayer.

From National Young Farmers Coalition:

Here are the amendments that we’re asking the Senate to support:

Family Farms First and Training for Beginning Farmers. Senators Brown (D-OH) and Nelson (D-NE) – This amendment will direct crop subsidies to the farmers who need them most by capping the income for those eligible to receive them – and use the savings to fund beginning farmer training and a beginning farmer matched savings account program.

Affordable Land for Farmers, Forever. Senator Leahy (D-VT) – This amendment will encourage land trusts to enter into new agreements that will make farms permanently affordable for full-time growers.

Non-GMO Plant and Animal Breeding. Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) – This amendment will require that 5 percent of total Agriculture and Food Research Initiative funding be used for non-GMO, public plant and animal breeding research.

Crop Insurance for Organics. Senator Casey (D-PA) – This amendment will improve crop insurance for organic farmers by removing the unjustified premium surcharge for organic farms and directing the Risk Management Agency to develop organic price elections.


The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee has finally issued its draft of the 2012 Farm Bill. Despite some good provisions supporting the growing and consumption of healthy food, the Senate’s draft doesn’t level the playing field for small and midsize family farmers who produce fruits and vegetables and makes significant cuts to food stamp (SNAP) benefits for low income people. The Senate’s draft incentivizes large farms to grow a few commodity crops (primarily corn and soybeans) through a revamped crop insurance program, without taking any steps to manage the overproduction of these crops. The bill does not go nearly far enough in supporting farmers who grow healthy food for local and regional food systems.

It’s URGENT that you contact committee members TODAY about the key healthy food provisions that are still missing, because the Senate Agriculture Committee will begin work on the bill tomorrow. Write or call members of the Senate Agriculture Committee today and ask them to include the following key provisions:

- Full funding for the SNAP program (food stamps) that protects against hunger and improves nutrition by providing critical resources to vulnerable people. Cuts to SNAP will only make it harder for millions of families to afford a nutritious diet.

- Better, more affordable crop insurance for organic farmers that helps reduce the increase financial risk of growing organic crops, which reduce the use of harmful chemicals that endanger human health and the environment.

- Support for Senator Leahy’s public health reporting amendment which would require USDA to report on the public health impacts of federal agricultural policies.

- Restore funding for outreach to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The funding provides assistance in successfully acquiring, owning, operating, and retaining farms and ranches and helps ensure they can equitably participate in all USDA programs. The program has been important in addressing historic discrimination against farmers of color by USDA and also supports domestic production of healthy food, as 18 to 20 percent of farms that grow vegetables, melons, fruits and tree nuts are operated by farmers of color

- Authorize schools and other service institutions to use federal program dollars to purchase food from local agricultural producers.

For More information:

NSAC Alert and Update:

CFSC alert:

IATP alert:

NESAWG is a network and supports the advocacy work of our participating organizations. If you would like to engage the NESAWG network on policy issues, please contact us.


Amy Little, Organizer

NESAWG, The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

845-255-0822 home office

845-853-3440 cell



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