Ag Policy

#FarmersCount: Take the National Young Farmer Survey

Take the National Young Farmer Survey and let Congress know that #FarmersCount! The survey is conducted every five years by the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) in order to understand and elevate the issues that matter most to young farmers and aspiring farmers. Take the survey today and share it broadly. It is crucial that the survey results represent all young farmers and aspiring farmers, no matter where they live or what they grow. Survey answers are completely confidential. Take the survey at youngfarmers.org/survey

Read More

The Farm to School Act of 2015

Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization

Congress revisits child nutrition program legislation approximately every five years in a single omnibus bill known as the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, or Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization for short (CNR). The last CNR is set to expire in September 2015, setting the stage for Congress to write a new bill in early 2015.

The CNR authorizes federal school meal and child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, among others. The last CNR in 2010 was groundbreaking: For the first time, the legislation supported farm to school directly by providing $5 million in annual mandatory funding for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program. A major victory for farm to school champions across the country, this program funds competitive grants and technical assistance for farm to school activities that increase the use of and improve access to local foods in schools. 

The demand for the Farm to School Grant Program is more than five times higher than available funding, so we are excited to announce that the Farm to School Act of 2015 has been introduced in Congress. In order to build on the USDA Farm to School Grant Program’s success, the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization must include increased funding for the program. Demand for the USDA Farm to School Grants outweighs the current available funding by more than five times.

The Farm to School Act of 2015 will continue and expand upon the successes of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program by:

  • Fully including preschools, summer food service program sites and after school programs on the list of eligible entities;
  • Increasing annual mandatory funding from $5 million to $15 million to better meet the high demand and need for this funding;
  • Increasing access among tribal schools to farm-fresh and traditional foods, especially from tribal producers; and
  • Improve program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. 

Show Your Support

Organizations
Do you represent a school, nonprofit organization, business or advocacy group interested in supporting the Farm to School Act of 2015? If so, please add your organization’s name to the National Farm to School Network’s organizational sign-on letter to Congress. SIGN UP HERE!

Individuals
Are you a parent, teacher, farmer or concerned eater? Sign this letter of support for the Farm to School Act of 2015 to tell Congress that farm to school is a powerful tool for supporting our kids, our farmers and our communities! SIGN UP HERE!

Learn More

The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) 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. Visit their respective websites to learn more.

Farmers and Ranchers: Sign Up for Conservation Stewardship Program

Deadline extended! Farmers and ranchers have until March 13 to sign up for nation’s largest federal conservation program!

Washington, DC February 23, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the sign-up period for the 2015 edition of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) – the federal farm bill’s largest working lands conservation program. Farmers and ranchers now have two additional weeks – until March 13 – to complete the initial application form.

Coinciding with this two-week extension, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has released a new, updated version of its CSP Information Alert, with step-by-step sign-up and enrollment details. The Information Alert now includes program choices ranked by conservation and environmental benefit.

CSP rewards producers for the conservation and environmental benefits they produce on their working agricultural lands; all private agricultural land, including cropland, pasture, and rangeland, is eligible to enroll in CSP.  For example, CSP contract-holding farmers can receive payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and the transition to organic farming. 

Details on this year’s program are available for free in an Information Alert published this week by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Farmers and ranchers must submit initial applications to their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office by Feb 27 to have their applications considered for 2015. Applications will be scored and ranked based on farmers’ current and planned on-farm conservation activities, and the applications offering the highest level of environmental benefits will be awarded CSP contracts.

CSP contract holders that enrolled in 2011 are now in the final year of their five-year contract and are therefore eligible to renew for another five years. Initial requests to renew must be submitted to local NRCS offices by March 31.

CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage and is widely popular among farmers and ranchers. Since the program began in 2009, nearly 70 million acres of farm and ranch land have been enrolled in the program.

Producers are encouraged to fill out the NRCS’ Self-Screening Checklist to help determine if CSP is right for their farm.

Action Alert: Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) Comment Period Deadline is JANUARY 20

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a critical federal program that helps farmers manage their lands sustainably and the program is in trouble. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) asks for anyone or any organization interested in resource conservation, sustainability, beginning farmers, small-acreage farmers, or fiscal responsibility to take a few minutes to:

  • Prepare and submit comments to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
  • Help spread the word to farmers about the comment period.

NSAC has developed several tools and resources to help you or your organization get the word out:

  • CSP action toolkit — need the basics? Want to know where to start? Need ideas for outreach? You'll find issue basics and materials here!
  • CSP comment template for organizations — here is a template you can customize! Filling it out won't take long at all.
  • CSP farmer comment template — another short template. It can be found online here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2015-CSP-Farmer-Template-Final.docx  AND it is linked on NRCS' CSP landing page.
  • CSP sample action alert — need ideas for where to start for an alert? Sample (with social media) is here!
  • CSP landing page — NSAC launched a CSP landing page that has two main actions: 1.) asking folks to SUBMIT COMMENTS! and 2.) asking folks to sign a letter to Chief Weller that mirrors our asks. Most important action is to submit comments, as duplicate letters and petitions don't count for as much as individual comments. The letter is intended to help draw in folks who might not be engaged enough on the issue to submit comments but who still care.
  • If you are working on any press outreach and want talking points, details, questions or help — email Sarah Hackney, shackney@sustainableagriculture.net, or call 202-547-5754.