Last month, the Young Farmers’ Coalition took part in the semi-annual planning meeting of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). NYFC is a member group of NSAC, which advocates nationally for agricultural reform and also coordinates the advocacy efforts of nearly 100 member organizations.
The winter meeting – this most recent one held in Haines City, FL – is the chance for groups to discuss and debate the coalition’s policy priorities for the upcoming year, and we were happy to be there to represent the beginning farmer community. The main NSAC policy objectives for federal food and farm policy in 2013 are:
INVEST IN THE FUTURE OF HEALTHY FARMS, FOOD & PEOPLE
Protect and improve sustainable agriculture initiatives, including those that support rural economic and community development, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, value-added agriculture, farm to school, local and regional farm and food systems, and sustainable and organic agricultural research and extension.
PROTECT OUR PRECIOUS AIR, SOIL & WATER
Protect and improve working lands conservation programs, including full funding for critical programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program and reattaching conservation accountability and grassland protection provisions to federal farm programs including crop insurance.
REFORM FARM SUBSIDIES & LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
Close farm program loopholes that benefit mega-farms and millionaire investors, eliminate wasteful direct payments, reform crop insurance, stop bad policy riders from rolling back livestock market competition rules and giving agribusiness a free pass, and ensure food safety rules from the Food Safety Modernization Act work for sustainable and organic farmers and do not become a new policy-based incentive for farm consolidation and specialization, squashing local and regional food production in the process.
Our goal this year is to work closely in the areas where these larger goals intersect with the NYFC’s mission of supporting young and beginning farmers and ranchers. We will continue to build the young farmer voice to ensure our needs are met by positive policy change.
This upcoming year, not only will Congress be determining agricultural appropriations as a part of its fiscal year 2013 and then fiscal year 2014 obligations, but the Farm Bill still needs to be dealt with, since last month’s extension will be expiring in September of this year. Aside from Congressional work, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed rules are out (see our site for more information), and we’ll be fighting to make sure they’re the best they can be for beginning farmers.
So that’s the policy update from NYFC. Stay tuned for more information coming soon about these topics and how they affect you!