Action on the Farm Bill: Advocacy for Local Farms, Food and Jobs
Public policy takes time — both in its development and advocacy — before becoming the law of the land. As our long-time members know, Catholic Rural Life has been striving to reform the Farm Bill since the 1990s. It has taken several Farm Bill reauthorizations (which only happen every 5-6 years) to move a good idea from conception to adoption. That is, if it happens at all.
Developing and maintaining an agricultural system that offers stability, security and innovative entrepreneurship remains an ongoing task. Many players and stakeholders are involved, funding is always a question, and implementation is never easy.
One possibility is the renewal of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which was previously put forward last year in anticipation of the 2012 Farm Bill.
This new bill, sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), is intended to create jobs by improving federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems.
This legislation will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, processing, marketing, and distribution needs. This legislation will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct and retail markets.
Of utmost importance, this legislation will provide more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, and invest in local agriculture businesses.
The new version of the bill is aimed at inclusion in the Farm Bill that the Senate and House will develop again this year. The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Actaddresses seven different titles of the Farm Bill: Crop Insurance, Credit, Nutrition, Rural Development, Research & Extension, Horticulture, and Livestock.
NCRLC is part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which has been closely involved in the development of the bill, both in 2011 and again this year. Click on the links below to learn more at the NSAC website:
For an investment of just over $100 million a year in farm bill dollars, the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act can help a growing sector of the food system flourish. This investment is small in overall farm bill terms – roughly one-tenth of one percent of total farm bill spending – but big in its power to deliver real, lasting, and market-based benefits to farmers, consumers, and communities.
Along with the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Catholic Rural Life will be working for the inclusion of the entire Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act in the upcoming 2013 Farm Bill.
Stay tuned as we continue to report on the progress of this campaign at key steps in the legislative process.