Please find her full press release here.
|Northwest Farm Bill Action Group|
Yesterday, (October, 28) Congresswoman Suzan DelBene spoke on the House Floor to recognize October as National Farm to School Month. Congresswoman DelBene stressed the importance of supporting local farmers and introducing healthy food options to young students.
Please find her full press release here.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed trade agreement between twelve Pacific rim countries. Among other things, the TPP aims to lower trade barriers such as tariffs. Congress voted in June to “fast-track” the negotiation process, leaving all negotiation up to the Obama administration. A final agreement is expected to be released next week, which Congress will then vote on without the ability to add amendments. Many advocates worry that the trade agreement will weaken the food sovereignty of communities in the US and abroad.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack argued in a recent article that “failing to grasp this opportunity would be a mistake: worse than just losing out on potential gains, our produces would fall behind other countries that are negotiating their own preferential arrangements in TPP countries.” The Secretary argued that the TPP will lead to greater demand for U.S. agricultural products and thus expand agricultural exports as a result. In theory, this will lead to stronger commodity prices and increase farm income. Secretary Vilsack also suggested that the rural economy will be strengthened due to the TPP creating more “good paying export-related jobs.”
Our allies at Farm Aid disagree. They write that “trade is something most Americans are inclined to support as long as it’s fair, equitable and to the benefit of all involved. But what’s on the table today will further grow the profits of huge corporations and siphon away wealth from America’s family farmers, our rural economies and farmers around the world”. Farm Aid reflects on the impacts of an earlier agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. “A lesser-discussed consequence is how NAFTA, when paired with the 1996 Farm Bill that permanently eliminated farm price and supply management tools, caused U.S. commodity prices to plummet.” This led to the creation of the widely-criticized direct farm subsidy payment program (which has now been replaced by federally subsidized crop insurance).
Stay tuned for opportunities to take action when the final agreement is released.
Hi! I'm excited to be a service learning volunteer at the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group. My name is Bruno Fiorentini, I'm a sophomore at the University of Washington. I am an International Studies major and I'm trying to double major with Journalism.
I grew up in Brazil and I have lived in Australia and Singapore prior to Seattle. I've been living in Seattle since early 2014, I'm very interested in policy issues and hope to work in the future in a career where I can be directly involved with policy making.
I chose this service learning position because I believe that we can do more to support the farmers in the USA and we can also implement more sustainable and equitable farming techniques to improve our planet.
Budget Time on Capitol Hill - Farm Bill to be Re-Opened? (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, March 11 2015) The House budget proposes for the Agriculture Committee to cut $1 billion over ten years from the farm bill. Budget reconciliation instructions require authorizing committees to meet a certain level of deficit reduction by a certain date. However, they do not dictate where those cuts should come from; that is left to the authorizing committees to decide.
The Senate budget resolution does not contain reconciliation instructions. NSAC will be urging congressional negotiators to adopt the Senate proposal not to include budget reconciliation instructions to the Agriculture Committees. If they are included, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will quickly have to fashion bills that re-open the 2014 Farm Bill and cut funding.
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From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:
RELEASE: FARM TO SCHOOL ACT OF 2015, CONNECTING STUDENTS TO LOCAL FOOD AND FARMS, INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS
Feb. 25, 2015, Washington, D.C. – Today, members of Congress took the first step toward a major win for local economies, farm families and the health of our nation’s children. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) introduced the bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 to expand the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The two identical bills will improve access to healthy local foods in schools and experiential food and agriculture education for students while boosting economic opportunities for family farmers. The bills are aimed for inclusion in the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.
“Research shows that kids eat what they know, and today more than 23 million students are learning about healthy food and local farms in the classroom and cafeteria,” said Helen Dombalis, Policy and Strategic Partnerships Director with the National Farm to School Network. “With the introduction of this bill, we are building on the positive momentum of farm fresh food in school meals, school gardens and farm to school education across the curriculum, such as cooking classes, taste tests, hands-on science classes and farm field trips.”
“Along with supporting healthy kids, farm to school initiatives open new market opportunities for farmers, fishers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs, supporting a stronger local and regional food system,” said Eugene Kim, Policy Specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “In 2011-12, U.S. schools spent $385 million on local food. Expanding farm to school activities through this bill will multiply the economic impact for producers and new, emerging local food businesses.”
Administered by USDA, the Farm to School Grant Program provides funds on a competitive basis to schools, nonprofits, farmers, and local, state and tribal government entities to help schools procure local foods and to support farm to school activities in cafeterias, classrooms and communities. The program was originally funded as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
In its first three years, the program received more than 1,000 applications totaling more than $78 million but was only able to fund less than 20 percent of requests from the $15 million allocated. The bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 proposes an increase in annual mandatory program funding from $5 million to $15 million and greater support for preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers. The proposed legislation also aims to improve program participation from beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, together with the forward-thinking, bipartisan and bicameral sponsors and champions of this new measure, call on Congress to fully include these proposals in the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2015.
Learn more about the Farm to School Act of 2015 and CNR 2015 at farmtoschool.org and sustainableagriculture.net.
Statements from Farm to School Act of 2015 Champions
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
“Farm to school is a two-fold solution to helping address hunger in America. It both encourages healthier eating habits among children, and supports local farmers. Children, communities, farmers and schools all win under this formula. The Farm to School Act of 2015 will build on and extend these successes. Hungry children cannot learn. Providing security to our children goes beyond having roofs over their heads. It means putting food on their plates. It also means offering healthy choices to help form healthy lifestyles. Vermont has been a leader in forging farm-to-school partnerships, and many of the improvements in this bill are drawn from those successes.”
Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
“Farm to School is a simple, but great concept to provide more economic opportunities to farmers and more home-state food options for our schools. The Farm to School Act of 2015 improves this important initiative to eliminate unnecessary barriers and provide opportunities for local communities to educate youth about agriculture while building more viable economies. The increased flexibility and reduced regulatory burdens in this bill can bring far-reaching economic benefits, especially in rural areas.”
Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
“An exciting trend in the marketplace is the growing demand for local foods. The Farm to School Grant Program provides an excellent opportunity to move this trend to our schools, benefiting both local schools and agriculture producers. The Farm to School Act provides increased nutritional options for students and increased opportunity for farmers, helping reconnect farmers to families and rural communities to urban communities.”
Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
“Farm to school is a proven way to give children access to nutritious, locally grown foods. It helps build good eating habits that can last a lifetime, and in the process, boosts the income of America’s farmers. More schools and early child care settings would love to participate in this excellent program, but they are limited by inadequate funds. Expanding the Farm to School Grant Program into preschool and early child care settings is a great way to reach more children and continue the important work of reducing the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic. With this legislation, we can make a difference.”
About National Farm to School Network
The National Farm to School Network is the leading voice for the U.S. farm to school movement, working as an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and preschools. To meet your state lead and learn more about what farm to school activities are happening in your region, visit farmtoschool.org.
About National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. For more information, visit sustainableagriculture.net.
The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2015 reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (CNR 2015), with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.
Last April, Tilth Producers of Washington and the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, in partnership with the Washington Young Farmers Coalition, hosted Congresswoman Suzan DelBene for a listening session and tour of Local Roots Farm. She liked it so much that she sent her D.C.-based agriculture staffer, Ben Barasky, to the district for his own tour this month.
The tour, in pictures:
Siri Erickson-Brown and Sam Bowhay, owner and manager, respectively, of Local Roots, welcomed Ben and a few other local farmers.
We headed to the fields to talk about the farm’s growing practices, including pest management. Field Manager Sam is considering applying for support from a farm bill research program like the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (SARE) grant program or the new Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) program’s Integrated Pest Management funding to find an organic control for wireworms.
In the farm’s processing area, Sam showed Ben the farm’s Food Safety Manual, a response to the forthcoming food safety regulations proposed by the Food and Drug Administration in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Adjusting to new food safety regulations is expensive and time consuming – Sam spent over 40 hours this winter learning about food safety regulations and creating the manual – so we are glad to see funding in the latest federal budget for the new Food Safety Outreach Program.
This season-extending greenhouse was funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Ben was impressed to see the impacts of this program, which he worked on farm bill language for, in person.
The full diversity of Local Roots’ crops is on display in the starts greenhouse. We discussed how diversification acts as a form of risk management for farms, talked about the need for more projects like that at Hearty Roots Farm in New York to make farm bill programs work better for diversified farms, and the pros and cons of Whole Farm Revenue Insurance.
The tour wrapped up with some local bounty for refreshments and casual conversation on the farm pad.
Thanks to Local Roots Farm, Sam, and Siri for hosting, to Ben Barasky for lending us your afternoon, and to Congresswoman DelBene for supporting sustainable faming!
A New Way of Doing Business for a New Generation (USDA, March 11, 2014)
When Lindsey and Ben Shute contacted their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office looking for loan assistance to build a new cold storage facility for their farm, they had no idea what was in store for them.
Farm Bill Reflects Shifting American Menu and a Senator’s Persistent Tilling (New York Times, March 8, 2014) The farm bill signed by President Obama last month was at first glance the usual boon for soybean growers, catfish farmers and their ilk. But closer examination reveals that the nation’s agriculture policy is increasingly more whole grain than white bread.
What Does the President’s 2015 Budget Mean for Sustainable Agriculture? (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, March 5th, 2014) President Obama sent his budget proposal for 2015 to Capitol Hill yesterday. A full review of positive signs and also some disappointments for NSAC priorities in the budget request.