The farm bill is the biggest piece of federal legislation that shapes what foods are produced in our country, how, and who has access to that food. The legislation creates and funds programs under twelve titles (or sections) that constitute roughly $400 billion in funding for research, subsidies, conservation payments, crop insurance and nutrition programs for farmers, ranchers and consumers. For all the details, check out this “What is the Farm Bill?” blog by the leading advocate for family farmers and sustainable agriculture in DC, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).
This year Congress will update the farm bill and this is the most strategic and effective time to weigh in on the 2023 reauthorization. The new House Agriculture Committee Members have been confirmed and the Committee’s Chairman, Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania, kicked off the 2023 Farm Bill listening session tour this week at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California.
2023 Farm Bill priorities of the CA Caucus
Over the past year, CalCAN has been working in partnership with ten other California members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to outline our collective 2023 Farm Bill Platform of the CA Caucus. The goal of this document is to elevate California’s unique agricultural context into the national conversation and to center climate resilience and racial equity as key pillars of the next farm bill. For an extremely comprehensive list of recommendations across farm bill programs and policies, see NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform.
The set of priorities outlined in the CA Caucus Platform call for:
- Improvements to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program;
- A national program modeled on California’s Alternative Manure Management Program,
- Increase investment in conservation-based research and extension;
- Increase organic certification cost share opportunities and streamline administration;
- Additional set-asides, loan forgiveness, and grants for underserved farmers and farmers of color;
- Increased funding for the Farming Opportunities, Training, and Outreach (FOTO) Program and the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production grant program;
- Support for regional food system infrastructure including food hubs and meat processing facilities;
- Implement civil rights reform at USDA;
- Disaster relief for farmers and farmworkers.
Agriculture Resilience Act
If you are a farmer or rancher, please consider signing on! If you aren’t please pass the link or graphic below along to your farmer friends.
One of the strategies to influence the contents of the farm bill is to draft “marker bills”, which are pieces of legislation used to indicate the importance of and support for certain topics. The Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA) is a key marker bill which outlines the research, resources and tools that farmers and ranchers need to achieve net-zero emissions in agriculture by 2040.
Building on the vision outlined in the ARA, NSAC and their members are hosting the Rally for Resilience, which “will bring together farmers and farm organizations from all over the country with a united request for their members of Congress–make climate change policy a priority in the 2023 Farm Bill!” Read more here.
During that rally, they will deliver the Farmer Climate Letter linked above to our Members of Congress to show vibrant, national support for the Agriculture Resilience Act and climate action in the farm bill.
Advocacy training and policymaker townhall
In January we experienced extreme flooding across the state, which further heightened our awareness of the impacts of climate change and the urgent and unavoidable need to build resilience. It is essential for our Members of Congress to hear from you about the impacts of these events, the challenges you face and viable solutions. In January, we joined hundreds of advocates and practitioners at the EcoFarm Conference where we hosted a bilingual farm bill advocacy training for farmers and ranchers and a town hall with Congressman Jimmy Panetta, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, and the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA Jenny Lester Moffit.
The advocacy training attracted more than 20 Spanish and English speaking farmers and ranchers from around the state. The three-hour session, led by NSAC’s Coalition Director Sarah Hackney, shed light on the complexity of the farm bill, identified key agencies and programs where specific interests can be addressed, and offered various ways to make your voice heard.
Two days later some of the farmer participants put the training to use by sharing their priorities and concerns during public comment at the town hall. The town hall drew hundreds of people in a lively and passionate conversation highlighting the need for research and support for organic and regenerative agriculture in addition to multiple audience members specifically calling for funding for ALBA, the regional farmer training organization in the area, and other similar programs.
The coming year is an important one for farm bill mobilization and your involvement can help ensure we protect the country’s important conservation and climate smart programs. Most immediately you can endorse NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform in 10 seconds by clicking here.
You can also sign up for CalCAN’s next biannual network briefing in March for a more in depth presentation on our state and federal priorities.