Federal Farm to School Legislation and Implementation Process and What You Can Do!

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Helen Dombalis, Policy Associate
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

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  • includes Richard B. RussellNational School Lunch Act signed by President Harry Truman in 1946 and the and Child Nutrition Act passed in 1966Created a two-year pilot project School Breakfast program and established a food service equipment assistance program and increased funds for meals served to needy studentsOver the years, various legislative champions improved eligibility standards with policy for free and reduced priceIn the past couple of decades, advocates have worked hard to improve nutrition standards for meals and pushed for them to conform with dietary guidelines.
  • Many people know the Farm Bill as having two primary thrusts: (1) Food stamps and nutrition programs; and (2) income and price supports for a number of storable commodity crops like wheat, corn, oats, rice, soybeans, and peanuts. In addition, the Farm Bill funds a range of other program “titles,” including conservation and environment, forestry, renewable energy, research, and rural development.The number of titles in Farm Bills changes often with each Farm Bill; in 2008 there were 15
  • The Farm Bill is now one of the most — if not the most — significant forces affecting food, farming, and land-use in the United States. To a large extent, the Farm Bill determines what sort of foods we Americans eat (and how they taste and how much they cost), which crops are grown under what conditions, and, ultimately, whether we’re properly nourished or not. Some people note the farm bill as dating back to the 1930’s beginning with the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 - originally conceived as an emergency bailout for millions of farmers and unemployed during the dark times of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression  The largest part of the Farm Bill is the Nutrition Title.Primary piece of agriculture and food policy legislationReauthorized roughly every five yearsAccording to Congressional Research Service, first Farm Bill was the Food and Agriculture Act of 1965Some historians say the first Farm Bill was adopted in 1933
  • Other Key Players for Congressional Action are:Senator Reid and Speaker of the House Boehner will be key for securing time on the floor to take up the Farm BillHouse Budget Committee
  • There are many competing interests in a Farm Bill debate/reauthorization.
  • Farm to school advocates have two opportunities (CNR and FB) to influence federal legislation since some programs are covered in each.
  • There are plenty of opportunities to help influence Farm to School Legislation and Implementation!


  • 1. Claire Benjamin, Office of Congresswoman PingreeHelen Dombalis, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Diane Kriviski, US Department of Agriculture Betti Wiggins, Detroit Public Schools 2012 Farm to Cafeteria Conference
  • 2. Icebreaker Stand up if you’ve heard of the Farm Bill Stand up if you’ve ever worked on a Farm Bill Stand up if you know the names of your two Senators Stand up if you know the name of your Representative Stand up if you’ve ever contacted one of your Members of Congress about an issue important to you Stand up if you’ve ever met one of your Members of Congress
  • 3. CNR 101: History Omnibus legislation renewed roughly every five years Includes the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act This policy can have huge effects on federal meal programs and their participants
  • 4. CNR 101: Programs The National School Breakfast, National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) are permanently authorized through the federal Child Nutrition Program These and other programs are considered during CNR reauthorization  Summer Food Service Program  WIC, and including WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program  Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program  Special Milk Program
  • 5. Advocacy: Farm to School Grants Multi-organizational advocacy  National Farm to School Network  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition  Community Food Security Coalition The ask: $50 million over 10 years ($5 million per year) What we did  Joint hill meetings  Sign-on letters The win: $40 million over 8 years ($5 million per year) Implementation:  Joint letters to USDA
  • 6. Farm to School Grant ProgramImplementation Request for Applications Selection process Remaining $1.5 million
  • 7. Farm to School In Action
  • 8. Engaging with Partners
  • 9. Farm Bill 101: Overview• Title I – Commodity • Title IX – Energy Programs • Title X – Horticulture &• Title II – Conservation Organic Agriculture• Title III – Trade • Title XI – Livestock• Title IV – Nutrition Programs • Title XII – Crop Insurance• Title V – Credit • Title XIII – Commodity• Title VI – Rural Development Futures• Title VII – Research • Title XIV – Miscellaneous• Title VIII – Forestry • Title XV – Trade & Taxes
  • 10. Farm Bill 101: Programs andBackground Nutrition  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)  Community Food Projects (CFP) Agriculture  Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)  Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG)  Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG)  National Organic Certification Cost Share Program Conservation  Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)  Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
  • 11. Farm Bill 101:Congressional Committees  Authorizing Committees: write the Farm Bill  House Committee on Agriculture  Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry  Appropriations Committees: determine how much funding should be allocated for specific programs during each fiscal year
  • 12. Farm Bill 101: Key Players Agribusiness Lobby  International Trade and Anti-Hunger Advocates Globalization Nutrition/Public Health  Renewable Energy Community Food  Government Agencies Security  Organic Groups Conservation/  Sustainable Ag Environmental Groups
  • 13. Congresswoman Pingree’s Farm toSchool Advocacy Eat Local Food Act Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act
  • 14. Advocacy: Farm to Cafeteria in the Farm Bill USDA Foods (commodities)  Establish a “local food credit program” that allows schools to use an amount equal to 15 percent of their USDA Foods dollars for purchases of local and regional foods in lieu of commodities Department of Defense Fresh  Allow schools and other service institutions a discretionary option to use their DoD dollars for a “local food credit” with which to make their own purchases of local and regional produce
  • 15. Where We Stand Now Senate-passed Farm Bill:  Authorizes pilots in five states to explore local food procurement in schools House Agriculture Committee-passed Farm Bill:  Authorizes schools with low annual commodity entitlement values (small rural schools) to start making their own food purchases in lieu of USDA commodities, provided USDA determines this would yield reduced administrative costs  Creates demonstration projects in at least 10 schools to test alternatives to USDA distribution through farm to school procurement  Authorizes a five-state pilot program to explore alternatives to the DoD Fresh program for procurement of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • 16. How potential Farm Bill legislationmight impact food service directorson the ground
  • 17. Status of the Farm Bill Current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30, 2012 Full Senate passed bill June 21, 2012 House Agriculture Committee passed bill July 12, 2012 Conference? Extension?
  • 18. What You Can Do! Sign up for NSAC and CFSC/NFSN action alerts Call and/or meet with your Members of Congress and tell them what matters to you. How do you know who to call? Go to congress.org and type in your zip code. Apply for a Farm to School Grant next year
  • 19. Questions?