FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Evan Flom, Campaign Communications Manager
National Young Farmers Coalition
firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-643-3564 x 742
Washington, D.C. (October 4, 2023) On Friday, September 8, Representatives Yadira Caraveo (D-CO), Gabe Vasquez (D-NM), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), and Brittany Pettersen (D-CO) introduced the Small Farm Conservation Act (H.R.5354) in the House. If enacted, this bill will streamline the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), USDA’s flagship program that supports on-farm conservation, to make it easier for small farmers and ranchers to access financial support and technical assistance to conserve water, reduce carbon emissions, and improve soil health. A version of the bill was introduced in the Senate on June 22, 2023.
“The Small Farm Conservation Act can help ensure that young farmers do not have to choose between meeting their bottom-line and investing in conservation to protect shared resources,” said Erin Foster West, the National Young Farmers Coalition’s Policy Coordination and Management Director. “Despite the benefits of USDA programs, many young farmers continue to report significant challenges in accessing cost-share programs that are not designed to meet the needs of small-scale operations. This bill will reduce those barriers and get conservation dollars out to more beginning producers.”
According to the 2022 National Young Farmer Survey, 83% of young farmers stated that “one of their farm’s primary purposes for existing is engaging in conservation or regeneration.” Young farmers are on the front lines of the climate crisis and are working hard to build solutions to this emergency while growing climate-resilient communities. Bills like the Small Farm Conservation Act can help more farmers implement on-farm conservation practices while building resiliency for the future.
“Colorado’s next generation of farmers and ranchers, like myself, stand strong in their support of the Small Farm Conservation Act. It holds the potential to empower and support small-scale farms and ranches that are actively implementing cutting-edge sustainability. Up until now, many small Colorado farms have been paying out of their own pockets to implement these practices due to the exclusion of small farms from the EQIP program. With this bill, we are sending a clear message that small, family farms and ranches like mine can continue to lead the way towards a more environmentally-conscious agricultural future,” said Evanne Caviness, the National Young Farmers Coalition’s Western Organizing Manager.
The Small Farm Conservation Act creates a new subprogram of EQIP dedicated to helping these producers access valuable cost-share dollars by providing tailored technical assistance and dedicated funding.
The Small Farm Conservation Act will:
- Create a new subprogram within EQIP with tailored support for small farms and ranches;
- Accept applications and provide payment on a continuous enrollment basis;
- Streamline the application and contract approval process for small farms and ranches;
- Establish a National Subprogram Coordinator and an additional coordinator in each state;
- Implement a minimum contract of $2,500 for contracts awarded under the subprogram;
- Create bonus payments for producers that manage under 50 acres who are implementing soil health practices; and
- Require the Natural Resources Conservation Service to train field staff on conservation practices tailored to small-scale producers and to conduct outreach to these farmers and ranchers.
“The Small Farm Conservation Act is an important step in supporting young farmers who are interested in both feeding their communities and taking care of our shared resources. This bill directly addresses the challenges that these farmers face when trying to access EQIP cost-share dollars by breaking down barriers and simplifying application processes. The National Young Farmers Coalition is grateful to the leadership of the bill’s sponsors and looks forward to continuing to ensure that NRCS programs work for the next generation of farmers,” said Lotanna Obodozie, Climate Campaign Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition.
The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) is a grassroots network changing policy and shifting power to equitably resource the new generation of working farmers.