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

The 2018 Farm Bill is Taking Shape Now!

Discussions about the 2018 Farm Bill are currently underway; they will determine what the bill looks like, and as a result, the future of our food system. Whether you're a farmer or not, the Farm Bill (which would be better named the Food and Farm Bill!) affects each and everyone one of us and what we eat, particularly the most food insecure among us. It also affects the quality of our environment and much of the resource base we depend on. For small and family farmers, this legislation impacts their ability to farm the way they want and to have a successful and sustainable business.

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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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