Local, healthy food and land stewardship are essential. Sign our Farm Bill Petition to tell our legislators that we want a 2018 Farm Bill that supports family farmers and conservation! Learn about exciting and positive Farm Bill “marker bills” legislators are advancing in Congress that promote good food and agricultural policy – and how you can take action to support them – below the petition.
PETITION: SUPPORT A GOOD FARM BILL
Dear Federally-elected Officials,
We, Missourians, know local healthy food and land stewardship are essential. We urge you to protect family farmers and conservation in the 2018 Farm Bill.
From farm to fork, our food system should be something we are proud of, making the safest and healthiest food available for everyone. A world-class food system that works for all Missourians is built on good food policies. We want a food and agricultural system we can all be proud of that will make affordable, nutritious and safe food available to everyone while protecting our natural resources. There’s a lot of room for improvement in the Farm Bill considering the United States currently does not grow enough fruits and vegetables to feed Americans a healthy diet according to USDA eating guidelines.
We believe the following bills are the best way to put strong protections on how our food is grown, manufactured, and sold. These bills will give Missourians confidence we are putting the safest, healthiest food on the table while supporting land stewardship across the agricultural landscape.
Please support the inclusion of the following legislation in the 2018 Farm Bill:
- The Healthy Fields and Farm Economies Act (H.R. 4751) will invest in farmers, ranchers, and our shared natural resources, while ensuring accountability to taxpayers who support these programs. We need to conduct robust monitoring of these critical conservation programs in order to provide support for their very necessary funding and to identify where they could be even more effective.
- The Local FARMS Act (S. 1947 / H.R. 3941) is a bill that everyone – eaters and growers alike – can get behind. The Local FARMS Act encourages communities to prosper through farm to fork investments, enables farmers to reach new markets, and helps consumers access fresh, healthy food and farm products.
- The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R. 4316) decreases barriers for young farmers to become part of the agricultural economy. The farmers and ranchers across the country who feed us are getting older. The average American farmer is nearing 60! This bill invests in the next generation of farmers and ranchers and is necessary component of a good food system.
- The Crop Insurance Modernization Act (H.R. 4865) will improve access to the federal crop insurance program for more diverse farmers and strengthen the tie between conservation compliance that benefits all Missourians and our taxpayer investment in crop insurance. Crop insurance is an important concern for many agricultural producers. Missouri farm operations have received over $2.7 billion in crop insurance subsidies from 1995-2016. It’s critical the Farm Bill requires this momentous taxpayer expenditure includes environmental stewardship of the natural resources for all Missourians
- The Strengthening Our Investment in Land Stewardship (SOIL Stewardship Act) (H.R. 5188) lays out a comprehensive strategy for improving working lands conservation programs that protects our natural resources, supports farmers, and enhances the productivity of agricultural lands. The highlights of the bill include maintaining annual enrollment for the Conservation Stewardship Program at 10 million new acres each year and maintaining funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program at $1.75 billion per year. The bill will ensure payments reflect the farmer investment and conservation benefits resulting from the adoption of key practices and programs and increase conservation support for historically underserved participants.
- Conservation activities across Missouri and the country are critical to protecting our soil and water quality while offsetting the environmental impacts of agriculture. Conservation practices on agricultural production land include the use of cover crops, conservation tillage, targeted nutrient application, and the installation of buffers that prevent nutrient pollution from reaching lakes and streams. These practices are included in the holistic farm approach to conservation in the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). In 2017, over 1.6 million acres of agricultural land in Missouri was in CSP providing critical financial and technical assistance to Missouri land stewards.
We encourage you to support funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program and co-sponsor the above legislation to ensure the principles outlined in these bills are included in the final Farm Bill.
2018 FARM BILL LOCAL FOOD AND CONSERVATION PRIORITIES AND MARKER BILLS
The Farm Bill is a federal omnibus bill that covers a variety of food and farm-related concerns, and provides funding and support for various federal programs. Some of these programs directly affect agriculture, such as crop insurance, crop subsidies, and incentive programs for soil conservation practices. Other programs are indirectly related to agriculture, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) and various programs related to forestry, rural development, biofuel production, and food safety. The Farm Bill also influences the type of crops farmers produce, whether farmers choose to implement conservation practices on their land, the amount of financial support available to low income families to purchase food, and the type and price of food found on our grocer’s shelves.
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment wants to help create a better Farm Bill, since it influences many aspects of our lives. From our stomachs to our taxes, it defines agricultural, environmental, and governmental practices. We want to create a better system that offers food security, fair markets, environmental stability, and finally, a stronger taxpayer voice.
Congress is already starting to make decisions right now on the Farm Bill that affect Missouri’s farmers and families through “marker bills.” “Marker bill” is an informal, generic name for a piece of legislation that bundles together a variety of related policy asks for the sake of getting ideas on the table in the context of a large reauthorization bill. The next Farm Bill will be introduced in 2018 and we want to make sure it supports conservation farming practices, supports farmers that grow fruits and vegetables and pasture-raised animals, and improves access to nutritious foods for all. Below are marker bills that align with these priorities.
Join us by taking action on the following components of the 2018 Farm Bill! Sign our Farm Bill petition above to support family farmers and conservation. This page will be updated as new actions arise over the next year.
Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (BFROA)
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R. 4316) will knock down longstanding barriers to entry and open new doors to economic opportunity for new and aspiring farmers. This legislation will ensure that the farm bill gives real support to both aspiring and retiring farmers and ranchers, as well as the American public, by:
- Expanding beginning farmers’ access to affordable farmland
- Empowering new farmers with the skills to succeed in today’s agricultural economy
- Ensuring equitable access to financial capital and federal crop insurance
- Encouraging commitment to conservation and stewardship across generations
Sign our Farm Bill Petition above telling our legislators to support family farmers and conservation including The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act.
The Local FARMS Act
The Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (S. 1947 / H.R. 3941) is a bill that everyone – eaters and growers alike – can get behind. The Local FARMS Act encourages communities to prosper through farm to fork investments, enables farmers to reach growing new markets, and helps consumers access fresh, healthy food and farm products. It will:
- Help farmers reach new markets through outreach, cost-share, and technical assistance programs.
- Increase access to fresh, healthy, local food among low-income groups and communities in need.
- Develop new and strengthen existing infrastructure that connects producers to consumers.
Sign our Farm Bill Petition above telling our legislators to support family farmers and conservation including The Local FARMS Act.
The Healthy Fields and Farm Economies Act
The Healthy Fields and Farm Economies Act (H.R. 4751) will support conservation program monitoring and reporting to ensure accountability in program funding by quantifying the environmental quality gains we all receive from land and agricultural conservation such as water and soil quality. It will:
- Quantify the environmental benefits of conservation practices in order to better build upon and improve program and practice performance.
- Require USDA to report on program progress to Congress and to the public, provided that individual data is aggregated to protect personally identifiable information
- Establish a National Technical Committee composed of individuals with relevant technical and scientific expertise to assist NRCS in monitoring and evaluating conservation programs.
Sign our Farm Bill Petition above telling our legislators to support family farmers and conservation including the Healthy Fields and Farm Economies Act.
The SOIL Stewardship Act
The Strengthening Our Investment in Land Stewardship (SOIL Stewardship Act) (H.R. 5188) lays out a comprehensive strategy for improving working lands conservation programs that protects natural resources, supports farmers, and enhances the productivity of agricultural lands. The highlights of the bill include:
- Maintaining annual enrollment for the Conservation Stewardship Program at 10 million new acres each year.
- Maintaining funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program at $1.75 billion per year, and establishing a coordinated payment limit for the management components of EQIP and CSP.
- Ensuring payments reflect the farmer investment and conservation benefits resulting from the adoption of key practices and programs.
- Increasing conservation support for historically underserved participants.
The Crop Insurance Modernization Act
The Crop Insurance Modernization Act (H.R. 4865) will improve access to the federal crop insurance program for beginning farmers, farmers with diverse crops and enterprises, specialty crop (non-commodities like food crops) operations, organic farmers, farmers using non-wholesale markets, and other underserved farmers. If adopted, the bill will:
- Expand premium discounts for beginning farmers.
- Reduce inter-agency disconnects and strengthen the connection between risk management and conservation.
Sign our Farm Bill Petition above telling our legislators to support family farmers and conservation including The Crop Insurance Modernization Act.
Does your organization support these marker bills? Sign on to the Local FARMS Act support letter, the SOIL Stewardship Act support letter, and the Beginner Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act support letter.
WORKING LAND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS UNDER ATTACK – CALL TODAY