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Creating a Level Playing Field for Sustainable Agriculture Through the Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill is Taking Shape Now!

The House and Senate ag committees are currently working to move proposed bills forward. 

The House ag committee's first version, which did not get passed out of the House, cut conservation by nearly $1 billion, decimates local and regional food business investments, eliminates funding for organic cost share, and increases farm subsidy loopholes large enough to drive a combine through.  

The Senate farm bill draft stands in stark contrast to the partisan House version.  The bipartisan draft in the Senate makes farm-to-fork investments and funding to support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers a permanent part of the farm bill.  It also includes important policy changes in the crop insurance program that are likely to produce positive conservation outcomes for the future and reduce the risks for beginning farmers.  The draft bill also includes permanent baseline funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), and includes funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and Organic Data Initiatives in line with the 2014 Farm Bill.  While some improvements are still needed in the Senate draft, it provides a strong foundation as Congress continues debate on the funding for food and agriculture.

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About the Farm Bill

The 2014 Farm Bill renewed programs that support beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access, thanks to a groundswell of support from grassroots farm advocates.

Work on the 2018 Farm Bill has begun and your involvement is more important than ever. Unless there is strong advocacy in support of funding for the Farmers' Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), and many more programs, they will cease to exist.

Below are important Farm Bill programs that support organic and sustainable farming practices and help farmers to develop their businesses and market their products:

  • The Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) provides funding to community supported agriculture programs, farmers’ markets, and farm markets to develop marketing information and business plans; support innovative market ideas, and educate consumers. Grants are available for farms, food hubs, and other businesses that process, distribute, aggregate, or store locally or regionally produced food products.
  • USDA Competitive Grant Research Program Funding Trends
  • The Organic Agriculture, Research, and Extension Initiative (OREI) is administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and is a competitive program that funds research, education, and Extension projects to address the most critical challenges that organic farmers face in their fields every day. Awards of up to $2 million are allowed for standard grants, $100,000 for conference and analytical grants, and $50,000 for planning grants.
  • The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP) reimburses participating organic producers and handlers for 75 percent (up to $750) of their certification fees. This program helps make organic certification affordable, enabling farmers and processors to meet the growing demand for organic food.
  • The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) invests in the next generation of farmers and food entrepreneurs by helping them access land, credit, and crop insurance; launch and expand new farms and businesses, and receive training, mentoring, and education.
  • The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) recognizes and rewards farmers that are the best managers of our shared resources: soil, water, and air. The program provides comprehensive conservation assistance, offers farmers the opportunity to earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and the transition to organic farming, even while they work their lands for production
  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that provides farmers and ranchers with financial cost-share assistance and technical assistance to implement conservation practices on working agricultural land.

These are but a few of the many important programs authorized in the Farm Bill. The future of these programs depends on advocacy by farmers and those who care about sustainable agriculture and healthy food choices. Join us in this effort today.

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The success of our policy work relies on OEFFA's dedicated members, who are leading the way to strong and healthy local food systems. For more information about OEFFA's policy work or to get involved, contact policy@oeffa.org or (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.

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