CalCAN Goes to the Nation’s Capitol

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 by Renata Brillinger
Renata Brillinger (CalCAN) and Martin Guerena (NCAT) at the NSAC lobby day. Renata Brillinger (CalCAN) and Martin Guerena (NCAT) at the NSAC lobby day.

I had a chance to visit Washington DC last week to attend the winter member meeting of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), an annual gathering of organizations from around the country. The focus of the two-day meeting was on our coalition strategy for the 2023 Farm Bill. Sessions covered a range of topics including the Agriculture Resilience Act, EQIP, CSP, NSAC’s upcoming “Farmers for Climate Action: Rally for Resilience” in March, dismantling structural racism, renewable energy, sustainable and organic research, and more.

On the third day, many of us made visits to our members of Congress to educate them about our Farm Bill priorities. I had a chance to join Martin Guerena from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in meetings with the offices of Republican Representative David Valadeo and Representative Doug LaMalfa where we talked about the power of soil health and agriculture conservation practices for combating drought and floods. I also joined Adam Wartheson from Organic Valley in meeting with Representative Jim Costa’s staff to talk about California’s Alternative Manure Management Program that reduces methane emissions on dairies.

The following is a summary by NSAC of the gathering (original blog here):

On February 1st, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) hosted a lobby day for coalition members to meet with Congressional leaders and senior USDA officials to encourage them to prioritize sustainable food and farm needs and farmer-led solutions in the upcoming farm bill reauthorization. Members from across the country scheduled 100 visits throughout the day with members of Congress from their home states and districts to champion the federal programs and reforms most important to them and their communities.

NSAC’s recently launched 2023 Farm Bill Platform offers a comprehensive, member-driven vision for a more sustainable farm and food system informed by the expert analysis and experience of farmers, ranchers, and food system stakeholders nationwide.

The lobby day came on the heels of NSAC’s Winter Meeting, which included remarks by United States Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas J. Vilsack, who detailed USDA’s vision and efforts under the Biden-Harris Administration to create an economy where the wealth and opportunities created in rural America stay there and where a transformed food system helps create new and better markets and more resilient farms and ranches. Members spent the meeting The NSAC Winter Meeting was a chance for members to strategizing together e around coalition priorities for the year and plans to ensure that the next farm bill advances racial equity, builds a climate-resilient future, invests in resilient local and regional food systems, and levels the playing field for small- and medium-sized farms and farm-related businesses.

Farmers and advocates came to Washington, DC to advocate for a range of issues including increased support for sustainable agriculture research, local and regional food systems, working lands conservation, and improving crop insurance. Participants also voiced their support for specific pieces of legislation, such as the Agriculture Resilience Act and the Strengthening Local Processing Act.

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