ACTION ALERT on the Senate Continuing Resolution (CR), which will save programs important for sustainable agriculture in the South. We have an opportunity to potentially restore funding for key sustainable agriculture programs included in the CR bill, which the Senate will vote on next MONDAY! But we must act today and tell our Senators why this bill is important to us.
What happened? Back in the fall, Congress made a mistake that prevents farmers from signing up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year, leaving over 9,000 farmers high and dry.** And when Congress extended the old farm bill on New Year’s Eve, they left out dozens of critical sustainable agriculture programs – leaving them stranded without funding for the year!*
On Monday, the Senate will take up their own version of the bill to fund government programs through the rest of 2013 – and they have a chance to fix the CSP mistake and to restore funding for key sustainable agriculture programs. The House failed to include these priorities in the funding bill it passed this week - the Senate can fix this if they know how important it is!
Here’s the deal: in lieu of any reasonable, normal budget-setting process, Congress is at work on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government afloat through the rest of fiscal year 2013. To avoid government shutdown, this must happen by March 27. The House already passed its version of the CR, but we had no luck in the House to fix technical errors in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or saving a number of programs left stranded by earlier Congressional inaction. You can get more info on the House bill here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/house-fy13-appropriations-cr/. These two items were included in the legislative package from Senator Reid that attempted to stave off sequestration, but it did not pass- you can read more here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/sequester-and-beyond-what-it-means-for-food-and-agriculture/).
Will you help? This is our best chance to save some critical Sustainable Ag Programs.
This is a full-Senate ask – so EVERYONE can get involved 3 ways:
- MAKE A CALL yourself to your two Senators (and encourage any other key allies / individuals in your state to do so too) Today and Monday
- SEND AN ALERT to your supporters – Today and Monday
- USE SOCIAL MEDIA to keep up the drumbeat (FRIDAY through TUESDAY)
Unless the Senate acts to fix the situation next week, 2013 is on track to be the worst setback for sustainable agriculture in years. Opportunities for farmers to implement smart conservation practices will be severely limited. Training opportunities for the next generation of beginning and minority farmers will dry up. Microloans to the very small businesses that drive economic recovery in rural America will cease. Technical assistance for socially disadvantaged growers will be cut. Organic farming research and cost share funding will be greatly diminished.
Don’t let Congress leave these programs stranded! Speak out today!
An example message for your Senator is: "I am calling about the Continuing Resolution Bill. Please tell the Senator to fix the Conservation Stewardship Program so USDA can hold a farmer sign-up this year. Also tell the Senator to support mandatory funding in the bill for the programs that were stranded in the farm bill extension, including organic production, beginning farmer and rancher training, and other programs that help develop sustainable agriculture and rural communities. These programs are important to farmers throughout the South (in your state) and they must be funded."
* Some of the programs currently stranded without funding include:
- · Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
- · Value-Added Producer Grant Program
- · Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program
- · Rural Energy for America Program
- · Organic Agriculture Research & Extension Initiative
- · National Organic Certification Cost Share Program
- · Organic Production & Market Data Initiatives
- · Farmers Market Promotion Program
- · Outreach & Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers
- · Conservation Reserve - Transition Incentive Program
** The problem impacting the Conservation Stewardship Program is a technical error that is currently preventing USDA from conducting a 2013 sign-up for the program. This error can be corrected with a no-cost fix that will allow USDA to help farmers and ranchers install conservation practices this year!
We have posted some useful information on our POLICIES page on our website for further review of the program details. http://www.ssawg.org/ag-policy/
Making a call takes only a few moments – please call right now!
Thanks for your actions – this work takes all of us!