The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has released its comprehensive 2012 Farm Bill policy platform, titled: Farming for the Future: A Sustainable Agriculture Agenda for the 2012 Food and Farm Bill. The platform reflects a comprehensive approach to farm policy reform that will: Create jobs and spur economic growth through food and farms; Invest in the future of American agriculture; Enhance our natural resources and improve agricultural productivity; Drive innovation for tomorrow’s farmers and food entrepreneurs; and Make healthy food widely available today and for generations to come.
Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director at the Center for Rural Affairs and member of the Coalition’s Coordinating Council, says these policies, if advanced, will help farmers and ranchers conserve soil and water, tap into high-value, niche markets; provide access to land and capital for the next generation of farmers and ranchers; level the playing field by capping subsidies to mega-farms and invest the savings in real family farmers and ranchers.
Of particular focus of the Center for Rural Affairs in this platform are the various provisions of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, a cross-cutting initiative aimed at helping the next generation of farmers and ranchers enter into agriculture.
The platform calls for support to organic and sustainable programs in the USDA budget. Among those who worked the halls of Congress recently for the Coalition was Mike Smith, an organic farmer in Fresno, Calif. He says small producers, like him, need the support.
"There are so many large farmers, corporate industry conglomerates, through lines of credit, banks, through loans can go through disasters and rebound quite easily," Smith said. "Whereas a small farmer when they go through a disaster, it can actually put them out of business."
Smith thinks the message got through as he and other organic farmers talked to lawmakers in Washington about their priorities.
"I really felt that once you got into the offices, you could set down at a table and look at them and they look at you and share and tell your story, and I really believe Congress is listening," Smith said.
The group wants organic research and certification assistance to be part of the 2012 Farm Bill.