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Full and Fair Farm Bill Sign On Letter

This Letter is sent on Behalf of the Undersigned Groups. For more information contact Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition at lpicciano@ruralco.org or 202-628-7160; Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition at kozer@nffc.net or 202-543-5675 and Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition at fhoefner@sustainableagriculture.net, 202-547-5754.  YOU CAN SIGN ON HERE

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow Chairwoman Senate Agriculture Committee The Honorable Thad Cochran Ranking Member Senate Agriculture Committee The Honorable Frank Lucas Chairman House Agriculture Committee The Honorable Collin Peterson Ranking Member House Agriculture Committee Dear Chairs and Ranking Members, As Congress continues its work on a new farm bill, we write to express our support for the Agriculture Committee efforts to complete a full and fair 2013 Farm Bill that will increase economic opportunity for the nation’s diverse family farmers, farmworkers, rural and urban communities and Indian Tribes; protect the environment; and ensure proper nutrition for all families and communities. We, the undersigned organizations, all have recommendations for the farm bill that extend well beyond the specific issues in this letter, but we focus here on specific equity considerations. We support a full and fair package that balances any reductions across all areas of the Farm Bill, mitigates disasters especially for the most vulnerable producers, protects natural resources, enhances equity and inclusion, constructs a new and economically viable future for agriculture and rural communities, and assures healthy food for all consumers. For years we have struggled to achieve a fair share of federal farm spending for all the communities we serve. Working with you in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, we have made significant strides forward to allocate a small but growing portion of overall US farm and food policy to enhance equity for our nation’s diverse producers and farmworkers, secure a future in agriculture for new entry farmers and rural, urban and tribal communities, and provide fresh, local food for all consumers. Unfortunately, the farm bill extension we are currently operating under has shut down many of these very programs, setting back the modest progress achieved earlier. We urge you to provide long-term protection and continued funding to this critical subset of small programs and offices charged with serving the most chronically underserved segments of agriculture. These represent a fraction of the full agriculture budget but are the lifeblood of a sustainable agriculture, rural development and food policy, including Indian Tribes, socially disadvantaged, beginning, and veteran producers, and farmworkers. As you continue to shape your policy and budget proposals, we urge you to assure strong farm bill mandatory funding support at no less than $20 million a year each for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and Value-Added Producer Grants, as well as at least $4 million a year for Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. A fairer farm bill would also provide appropriate waiver, premium reduction, targeting, and advanced payment provisions for beginning, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers within the farm bill conservation, credit, crop insurance, NAP, specialty crop, and rural development programs. In this light, we urge you to include all of the provisions of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act and the 2013 Farm Bill Equity and Access Priorities Package in the new five-year farm bill (summaries attached; noting that a number of priorities are included in both packages). As you proceed with your farm policy deliberations, we urge you to make all funding and policy recommendations relative to farm bill programs with an eye toward the future, a concern for the next generations of our nation’s farmers and ranchers and healthy and nutritious for food for all, and great care to being inclusive of women, minority, tribal and limited resource farmers, farmworkers and rural and urban communities who are oftentimes in most need of these important programs. Sign On Here:

For more information: https://www.ruralco.org/FarmBillEquityPackage