Equity Letter on the 2012 Farm Bill


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Equity Letter on the 2012 Farm Bill

  1. 1. For more information contact Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition at lpicciano@ruralco.org or 202-628-7160; Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition at kozer@nffc.net; Juli Obudzinski,National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition at jobudzinski@sustainableagriculture.net; or AishaAmuda, Community Food Security Coalition at aisha@foodsecurity.org.February 14, 2012The Honorable Debbie Stabenow The Honorable Frank LucasChairwoman ChairmanSenate Agriculture Committee House Agriculture CommitteeThe Honorable Pat Roberts The Honorable Collin PetersonRanking Member Ranking MemberSenate Agriculture Committee House Agriculture CommitteeDear House and Senate Agriculture Committee Leadership:The undersigned groups, representing millions of farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, businesses andconsumers, write to express our strong support for Congress to complete the reauthorization of thefarm bill in 2012. We seek a 2012 Farm Bill that increases economic opportunity for familyfishermen, farmers and ranchers -- including socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resourcefarmers and ranchers-- farmworkers, Indian Tribes, and rural communities, while protecting theenvironment and ensuring proper nutrition for all families and communities.Each of our organizations has recommendations for the farm bill and the agriculture budget thatextend beyond the specific issues included in this letter, but we focus here on equity and accessissues that are at the core of expanding participation in the farm and food system. For years wehave struggled to achieve a fairer share of federal farm spending and with your support have madesignificant strides forward, progress that we hope will continue in the upcoming reauthorization ofthe farm bill.We were pleased with elements of the draft farm bill recommendations prepared for the Joint SelectDeficit Reduction Committee last fall, including but not limited to increased funding for communityfood projects, local food systems infrastructure, healthy food incentives for SNAP recipients, andthe continuing support for 1890 and 1994 Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic ServingInstitutions. However, we were discouraged to find many important programs, including several thatdirectly address issues of equity and access, shortchanged or omitted in the process of allocatingresources last fall.As you continue farm bill deliberations this year, we urge you to assure adequate direct farm billfunding is included for a critical set of programs charged with serving and creating economicopportunities for historically underserved segments of agriculture. While constituting a smallfraction of the full agriculture budget the programs are the lifeblood for Indian Tribes, sociallydisadvantaged, beginning and veteran producers, farmworkers and rural communities. In order to
  2. 2. assure fairness and balance in the final Farm package, the following should not be allowed to expireor contract.Socially Disadvantaged and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers: We urge you to renew supportfor the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program and theBeginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program at $25 million annually for each program,and maintain other related policies and programs to support this sector of agriculture.Tribal Communities: We urge you to continue to support the Office of Tribal Relations Programand to provide farm bill funding of $10 million annually in the Research Title for the FederallyRecognized Tribal Extension Program to provide critically needed services to tribal producers. Thiswould allow the program to expand from reaching just 32 Indian Tribes to at least 100 of the 565Tribes.Farmworker Communities: The Grants to Improve the Agricultural Labor Workforce Programshould be reauthorized and made mandatory with funding of at least $4 million annually. In orderto maintain critically needed workforces in disaster affected areas, the Emergency Disaster Grantsfor Farmworkers program should be amended to include a standing fund of $5 million withauthority for replenishment to provide funding for services to farmworkers affected by naturaldisasters.In addition to retaining the programs directed at assuring real access by historically underservedsegments of agriculture, we would also call special attention to programs with mandatory spendingunder the current farm bill that are important to our communities. We urge you to supportsubstantial mandatory funding for:  Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program;  Value-Added Producer Grants;  National Organic Certification Cost Share Program;  Rural Energy for America Program; and  Biomass Crop Assistance Program.We particularly want to recognize progress made in the package drafted for the Joint SelectCommittee in retaining the critical set-asides and reduced cost shares in the conservation title thathave increased opportunity for socially disadvantaged, beginning, and limited resource farmers andranchers. We encourage you to expand access in the areas of specialty crops, community food,energy, and research programs by applying similar tools, including reduced cost share, match, andset-aside provisions.We will also be sharing our additional recommendations for policy revisions relevant to thesecommunities that should be included in the 2012 Farm Bill. These include measures contained inlegislation that have already been introduced by champions on the Hill or which will be introducedshortly, and which deal specifically with socially disadvantaged, local food production and access,nutrition, and beginner farmer and rancher issues. We urge you to include these policy changes inthe new farm bill and we look forward to working with you and your staff on these matters.As you proceed with your farm policy deliberations, we urge you to make all funding and policyrecommendations relative to farm bill programs with an eye toward the future, a concern for the 2
  3. 3. next generations of American farmers and ranchers, and great care to include women, minority,tribal and limited resource farmers. These individuals have much to contribute to their communitiesand rural and agricultural economies, but their ability to sustain their jobs, farms, and communities isbased on fair policies and proper support.Thank you for your consideration of our views.Sincerely,AFGE Local 3354, St. Louis, MOAgricultural Missions Inc, New York, NYAlliance for a Just Society, Seattle, WAAlliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters, Albany, CAAmerican Farmland Trust, Washington, DCAmerican Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), Washington, DCAmerican Sustainable Business Council, Washington, DCAshokas Youth Venture, Oakland, CAAssociation for the Advancement of Hmong Women in Minnesota, Maplewood, MNBay Localize, Oakland, CABlack Farmers Agricultural Associates of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, ARBon Secours New York Health System, New York, NYCAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, New York, NYCalifornia Climate and Agriculture Network, Sacramento, CACalifornia Farmers Union, Turlock, CACalifornia Food and Justice Coalition, Oakland, CACarver Integrative Sustainability Center, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, ALCASA del Llano, Inc., Hereford, TXCenter for African Heritage, Portland, MECenter for Resilient Cities, Milwaukee, WICenter for Rural Affairs, Lyons, NEChurch Women United of New York State, Rochester, NYColectivo Flatlander, Houston, TXCommunity Aid and Development, Jackson, MSCommunity Alliance for Global Justice, Seattle, WACommunity Food Security Coalition, Portland, ORCrossroads Community Food Network, Takoma Park, MDD.C. Farm to School Network, Washington, DCDakota Rural Action, Brookings, SDDelta Land and Community, Almyra, ARDesign Studio for Social Intervention, Boston, MAEarthworks Urban Farm, Detroit, MIEconomic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County, Manitowoc County, WIEnvironmental Justice Climate Change Initiative, Washington, DCFair Food Matters, Kalamazoo, MIFair Food Network, Ann Arbor, MI 3
  4. 4. Family Farm Defenders, Madison, WIFarm Aid, Cambridge, MAFarmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, FLFay-Penn Economic Development Council, Uniontown, PAFED UP, Chicago, ILFederation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, East Point, GAFlorida Immigrant, Miami, FLFlorida Organic Growers, Gainesville, FLFood and Water Watch, Washington, DCFood Shift, Oakland, CAFood System Economic Partnership, Ann Arbor, MIFoundation for Urban and Neighborhood Development, Denver, COFour Seasons Produce Cooperative, Charlotte, MIFuerza Mundial/Hitec Aztec Communication, Santa Maria, CAGrassroots International, Boston, MAGreater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, Grand Rapids, MIGreen For All, Washington, DCHampshire College, Amherst, MAHealthy Dining Chicago, La Grange, ILHouston United, Houston, TXHunger Action Network of New York State, New York, NYIdaho Community Action Network, Boise, IDIllinois Stewardship Alliance, Springfield, ILIndependent Advocate, Annandale, VAIndian People Action, Butte, MTInstitute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MNIntertribal Agriculture Council, Billings, MTIowa Farmers Union, Ames, IAIsland Grown Initiative, Vineyard Haven, MAJust Food, New York, NYKansas Rural Center, Whiting, KSLand Stewardship Project, Minneapolis, MNLatino Leadership Alliance, Bristol, PALeague of Rural Voters, Minneapolis, MNLittle City Gardens-Urban Farm, San Francisco, CALive Real, Oakland, CALocal Matters, Columbus, OHLos Jardines Institute, Albuquerque, NMLittle Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Chicago, ILMassachusetts Avenue Project, Buffalo, NYMichael Fields Agricultural Institute, East Troy, WIMichigan Land Trustees, Lawrence, MIMichigan Land Use Institute, Traverse City, MI 4
  5. 5. Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance, East Lansing, MIMissouri Rural Crisis Center, Columbia, MONational Catholic Rural Life Conference, Des Moines, IANational Family Farm Coalition, Washington, DCNational Hispanic Environmental Council, Alexandria, VANational Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, Washington, DCNational Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Washington, DCNational Wildlife Federation, Washington, DCNational Women In Agriculture Association, Oklahoma City, OKNational Young Farmers Coalition, Tivoli, NYNorth Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project, Durham, NCNortheast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Deerfield, MANortheast Organic Farming Association, Stevenson, CTNortheast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, New Paltz, NYNorthwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Eugene, ORNorthwest Farm Bill Action Group, Seattle, WANorthwest Michigan Agriculture and Food Sector Alliance, Traverse City, MINorthwest Michigan Food and Farming Network, Traverse City, MIOhio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Columbus, OHOhio Environmental Council, Columbus, OHOklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Inc., Oklahoma City, OKOrganic Farming Research Foundation, Santa Cruz, CAOther Worlds, New Orleans, LAPCC Farmland Trust, Seattle, WAPesticide Action Network, San Francisco, CAPlanting Justice, Oakland, CAPublic Health Law and Policy, Oakland, CAReal Food Challenge, Dorchester, MAResearch, Education, Action and Policy on Food Group (REAP), Madison, WIResource Center, Chicago, ILRooted In Community, Berkeley, CARural Action Sustainable Agriculture, Trimble, OHRural Advancement Foundation International - USA (RAFI-USA), Pittsboro, NCRural Advancement Fund, Orangeburg, SCRural American Network, Estancia, NMRural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Washington, DCRural Development Leadership Network, New York, NYRural Vermont, Montpelier, VTSafe Streets/Strong Communities, New Orleans, LASchool Food FOCUS National Office, New York, NYSlow Food Oberlin College, Oberlin, OHSlow Food USA, New York, NYSNAP Gardens, New York, NY 5
  6. 6. Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Fayetteville, ARSouthern Partners Fund, Atlanta, GATaos County Economic Development Corporation, Taos, NMThe Center for Popular Research, Education and Policy, Oakland, CAThe CSA Coalition, Madison, WIThe Praxis Project, Washington, DCTilth Producers of Washington, Seattle, WATown of Atrisco Grant-Merced, Albuquerque, NMUnited Farmers USA, Manning, SCVeggielution, San Jose, CAVirginia Association for Biological Farming, Lexington, VAWar on Poverty, Jacksonville, FLWell Spring Community Services, Inc., Boley, OKWest Side Campaign Against Hunger, New York, NYWhyHunger, New York, NYWorld Farmers, Lancaster, MAcc:Members of the House Committee on AgricultureMembers of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 6