Current Actions

  • Tell the Senate to Stand up for Independent Farmers and Ranchers Today!

    On June 15, farmer Eric Hedrick visited Washington, DC to deliver over 62,000 petition signatures to the Hill here in Washington, DC. In his own words:

    “I’m a West Virginia poultry farmer, and I’m asking for your help. I recently went public about problems in the poultry industry such as diseased birds and genetic deformities. My story was featured in the New York Times. But I took a major risk in coming forward: most farmers in my situation are afraid to speak out against injustices and company wrongdoing because the poultry industry and its lobby are so powerful. Help me keep the poultry industry honest and make it possible for farmers like me to do their jobs. Tell the Senate to support farmer safeguards under USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).  GIPSA gives poultry farmers support to gain basic protections—like making it illegal for companies to retaliate against us, and giving us guaranteed access to a jury trial if we have grievances. Unfortunately the House, through backdoor efforts, passed a budget that includes an obstructive rider; and that rider defunds GIPSA. We can’t let the rider into the Senate, too.”

    Can you stand with Eric today? You can help! EVERY SINGLE SENATOR needs to hear from folks back home that farmers deserve a level playing field, not manipulation and retaliation from Big Meat. All it takes is one quick, easy call or email. Here's how:

    MAKING A CALL IS EASY

    • Call the Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121
    • The operator will be able to connect you directly to both of your Senators (one at a time, of course).
    • Share a message like this one with whoever answers the phone:
    • “Hello, my name is _____ and I’m a constituent and a voter (and tell ‘em if you’re a farmer!).  I would like to leave a message for the person who handles agriculture for [Your Senator].  Can you take a message for me, please?  The message is:  please DO NOT SUPPORT any amendments or riders in the coming Senate agriculture appropriations bill that would block funding for USDA’s efforts to finalize rules to protect farmers’ rights. Farmers and ranchers deserve a fair shot in the marketplace and should not be subject to abuse from industrial meatpackers. Thank you for your time.”

    SENDING AN EMAIL IS EASY TOO

    Simply customize the email below - hitting "submit" will send it to both of your Senators!

  • A Big First Step Forward for Farm to School!

    Great news! Today we are a HUGE step closer to helping 3 million more schoolchildren get involved in farm to school programs. That means 3 million kids could soon be eating better at school, digging into bountiful school gardens, and learning from local farmers where their food comes from. 

    Here’s what just happened: this morning, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to send their draft Child Nutrition Act reauthorization on to the full Senate, and it includes 10 million dollars a year – doubled funding! – for farm to school grants nationwide, along with a host of fixes that will help the grant program work better for schools and farmers.

    Can you help us THANK Senators who helped champion this issue and encourage the full Senate to move it forward?

  • There’s good news in the halls of Congress!

    A bipartisan team in the House and Senate has introduced the Farm to School Act of 2015, a bill that will expand the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill is a win-win-win for farmers, students, and communities – it increases children’s access to fresh foods, supports family farmers, and helps to build strong local food economies. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) have taken the lead in introducing this important bill, and with support from more members of Congress this ‘marker bill’ will become part of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization package later this year!

    YOU CAN HELP! Let’s tell everyone in Congress that they should sign on to this bipartisan bill! Endorse the Farm to School Act of 2015 as a “citizen supporter” and show your support for the positive change it can bring to schools and communities nationwide. (If you represent an organization and want to also endorse the bill on your organization’s behalf, please use this letter instead)

  • Tell the Senate to Stand up for Independent Farmers and Ranchers Today!

    Congress is about to leave Washington for their annual summer break – but there’s some important unfinished business they need to address first!

    Earlier this year, lobbyists for Big Meat – the mega-corporations who control most of our nation’s meat production – snuck language into a budget bill that would strip farmers of critical rights and hard-won progress towards a fair, competitive market.

    If a budget passes with this secret language – called the “GIPSA* rider” – intact, many independent poultry and livestock producers who contract with meatpackers – the businesses that help them get their products to market – will have no legal protection from retaliation when speaking out about problems.  That means if a farmer has a problem and speaks to her member of Congress about it, Big Meat can retaliate by dropping her growing contract altogether – potentially forcing that farmer out of business.  And that’s just one of several nasty anti-farmer pieces of this rider!  There’s even more...  Big Meat has worked for years to silence independent growers in order to maintain their control of the meat and poultry market. Cartoon Credit: Tom Chalkley

    Congress is leaving town on Friday – so right now, farmers are speaking up loud and clear to let Congress know they will not be silenced any longer.  Will you join us in speaking out for fairness for farmers? 

    Two Senators – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) – are taking a stand against the secret anti-farmer rider in the budget bill, and we need your Senators to join them!

    Call or email your Senators TODAY and ask them to sign the “GIPSA Fair Competition Dear Colleague” letter.  Their signature on this letter will show Congress that there is broad, bi-partisan support for fairness for farmers.  It will help move us one step closer to getting the bad rider out of the budget - and bring independent growers one step closer to fair competition and protection from retaliation.   

    Cartoon Credit: Tom Chalkley, www.tomchalk.com

    Please customize the email below - hitting "submit" will send it to both of your Senators!

  • Speak out for Fairness for Farmers Today!

    Big Meat is at it again in Washington.  Congress is at work this week on next year’s budget, and wealthy corporate interests have snuck in secret language designed to strip independent meat producers of their rights.  This is seriously bad news - and we’ve got to act fast to fix it.

    Big Meat – the small group of giant companies that process the majority of poultry, pork, and beef in the US – is working tirelessly to maintain their market power at the expense of independent meat producers across the country.  The language they snuck into the House budget bill would strip farmers and ranchers of basic legal protections against unfair treatment at the hands of large corporations.  For example, if this bill becomes law, independent growers will no longer have legal protection from retaliation, where a corporation can bankrupt a farmer if she raises a legitimate business grievance.  

    These big corporate businesses don’t want to play by the rules of fair competition - they want to change the rules in their favor.  If Big Meat wins and USDA can’t enforce what’s known as the GIPSA rule*, independent meat and poultry producers will have no legal protection against outright abuse.

    We need your help:  your Representative sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee – and this committee has the power to say no to Big Meat!  Two legislators are taking a stand by introducing amendments that will remove the worst of this bad language - and they need your Representative to stand with them!

    Can you make a phone call right now? It takes less than 5 minutes! An email is not as powerful as a phone call, but if you can't call, it's a fine alternative. See a sample email and phone message below!


  • Down to the Wire: Farm Bill Action Now!

    We're in the home stretch on the farm bill front - the fate of our nation's food and farm policy for the next five years could be set in the next few days! And there's so much at stake – fairness for farmers, long-overdue subsidy reforms, and investments in a more sustainable food and farm future – speak out today by making a call or sending an email now!

    Note: right now this action is only available to folks whose Senator or Representative sits on the farm bill conference committee. If that’s one of your legislators, you should see a suggested message below. You might need instead to enter your ZIP code to see it! You can customize your message with additional information below, too.


  • Tell Congress:
    Pass a New Farm Bill!
    And Don't Leave Sustainable Agriculture Stranded!

    Creating jobs in rural America, seizing new market opportunities, and ensuring the success of the next generation of farmers are national priorities. Let's ensure Congress knows this as they begin conference negotiations on the final version of the 2013 Farm Bill. In the meantime, 10 key programs that represent much of the federal government’s investment in sustainable agriculture are currently stranded without mandatory federal funding due to Congress' inability to come together and pass a new bill.

    Congress: pass a new farm bill this year! And don't leave critical

    sustainable agriculture programs stranded again!


  • The Clock's Ticking - We Need a Farm Bill Now!

    For two years (that’s right, TWO YEARS!) we’ve been calling on Congress to pass a full and fair five-year farm bill. We’ve seen two failed attempts, followed by a terrible last-minute extension of the old farm bill at the end of 2012 – one that failed to reform outdated farm subsidies and literally stripped all funding from nearly a dozen critical programs that help farmers and communities. These programs create jobs, invest in our next generation of farmers, and help farmers and communities build a more sustainable future – but they are currently stranded without funding. 

    This is inexcusable - Congress needs to act now.

    Tell your legislators: “Two years is too long without a farm bill. We need a full and fair five-year farm bill that reforms outdated farm subsidies, protects our natural resources, and invests in a healthier future for all of us - and we need it now!” 

    By entering your ZIP code into the box below, you'll automatically send emails to both of your Senators and your Representative!


  • Tell the House: We Need a Better Farm Bill!

    The House of Representatives is poised to take a giant step backwards this week – away from the kind of future we want and towards unlimited subsidies for mega-farms and corporate agri-business and reduced investments in organic and sustainable farming. An amendment with common sense, long-overdue farm subsidy reforms is on the table right now – and it needs our support. At the same time, outrageously, another amendment proposes to REPEAL a successful program that helps farmers and communities expand and improve healthy food access through farmers markets, food hubs, and other innovative ways to connect farmers and consumers.

    What were they thinking?!

    On the reform front, Rep. Fortenberry’s (R-NE) amendment #93 puts a cap on commodity subsidy payments and closes loopholes that allow mega-farms to collect unlimited payments. Your legislator needs to SUPPORT this amendment.

    On local food, Rep. McClintock’s (R-CA) amendment #92 would eliminate all funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. Your legislator needs to OPPOSE this amendment.

    TO SEND AN EMAIL:  Enter your contact information below; it will automatically send the email to your Representative based on your ZIP code.

  • It's time for a better farm bill. Now.


  • Congress, Don't Play Politics With Disaster -

    Protect and Support Conservation Programs!


    In the face of the most disastrous, widespread drought in a generation, what’s the worst possible thing Congress could do?

    Play politics with disaster aid? It’s happening.

    Cut conservation programs – the very ones that help farmers protect themselves from the worst ravages of drought? It’s about to happen. 

    Help us tell Congress this is unacceptable – call your Representative and Senators today and tell them:  we need a farm bill now that funds conservation! And don’t pay for disaster aid by cutting conservation!

    Start by entering your ZIP code below:



  • Time is Running Out: We Need a Better Farm Bill -

    and We Need it Now!


    This is it.  It’s make or break time for the 2012 Farm Bill.  Farmers and ranchers from across the country are rallying on Capitol Hill today.  We need your voice too!

    What’s on the table?

    • Hands-on training and tools for beginning farmers and ranchers.
    • Support for cutting-edge organic and sustainable research. 
    • New infrastructure – like ‘food hubs’ and innovative marketing tools – that helps farmers take advantage of ever-growing demand for local and regional food. 
    • … and more.*

    But the 2008 Farm Bill expires on September 30, and if Congress doesn't pass the 2012 Farm Bill - or extend the '08 bill, along with funding for critical programs - hundreds of millions of dollars for sustainable agriculture, economic development, and beginning farmer support will literally disappear.

    We can’t let this happen on our watch.

    Help us tell Congress this is unacceptable – take just 5 minutes to call your Representative and Senators today! Start by entering your ZIP code below:



  • The Conservation Stewardship Program Needs Your Help!

    If the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is helping you implement practices on your farm that reduce soil erosion, increase wildlife habitat and save energy while allowing you to continue to run a profitable farming enterprise, then now is the time to tell Congress.


    The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to vote on their version of the farm bill the week of July 9. In the Senate Farm Bill, the Conservation Title was cut by $6.4 billion over 10 years and Conservation Stewardship Program was cut by $2 billion, reducing enrollments by 2.5 million acres each year. This is already an excessive hit to this very popular and effective program that supports conservation on working farmland.

    Yet we expect an even bigger attack on the Conservation Stewardship Program in the House Agriculture Committee. Committee spokespeople have indicated the House bill will cut CSP considerably more than the $2 billion. If these cuts are enacted it will not only dramatically reduce the opportunities for new farmer/ ranchers to enroll in the program, but will also limit the re-enrollments for those already in CSP. These cuts would mean that once a producer’s 5-year CSP contract ends getting another contract will be much more difficult and less likely.

    Please call the House Ag Committee member(s) from your state right away. They represent farmers and agriculture interests not just in their districts but for your entire state and need to hear from you. We’re asking farmers and ranchers who care about the Conservation Stewardship Program to push back against attempts that would further scale back the program.

    Call today!

  • It's Time for a Better Food & Farm Bill.

    Congress is hard at work writing the 2012 Farm Bill.  The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's comprehensive 2012 Farm Bill policy platform, Farming for the Future: A Sustainable Agriculture Agenda for the 2012 Food & Farm Bill, reflects the real, urgent needs of farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs across the country.  We need your help! Let's show Congress that people from around the country - from farmers to families, from Montana to Mississippi - are calling for change. 

    Join over 5,000 (and counting!) of us: 

    Sign on as a citizen endorser of Farming for the Future!



    Sign on as a citizen endorser of Farming for the Future!

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    Who will grow food for future generations? The current farm population is aging rapidly, and while there are many people who want to farm and ranch they face tremendous obstacles entering this field. To ensure a healthy, safe, and prosperous future America urgently needs new farmers.

    Ask your two Senators and Representative Co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (BFROA) of 2011! This is our chance to break down barriers that impede new agriculture entrepreneurs from starting a farming business.

    BFROA would improve existing credit programs so young and beginning farmers can access the financing necessary to run their businesses. It would reauthorize important conservation programs that foster new life-long stewards of the land and encourage innovative strategies for land transfer and farm entry. The bill also invests farm bill dollars in training veterans who want to launch a ranching or farming business.

    Once you enter your zip code, the correct names and phone numbers will pop up so you can address your call to the appropriate recipient!

    It just takes a moment to call: 

    The simple message:

    I am a constituent. I am calling to urge Senator/Congress(wo)man __________ to co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011. This legislation was recently introduced in the House and Senate. It will help new farmers and ranchers get started in agriculture. It’s a job creator and a cost effective smart investment. Investing in the future of agriculture is not a partisan issue, it benefits everyone. Can I count on Senator/Representative________ to be a co-sponsor?
    -If your Senator will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Senator Tom Harkin’s office.

    - If your Representative will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Representative Tim Walz’s office.

    P.S. It is possible agriculture staffers will ask for a copy of the bill or for additional information.  Feel free to share the summary of the bill at this link. It was introduced in the House by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN-1) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1), and in the Senate by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), along with nine original co-sponsors.


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    Ask your two Senators and your Representative to co-sponsor the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act!  We need support from as many legislators as possible – and quickly.  Can we count on you to take action today?

    Local food systems not only hold potential for connecting consumers with where their food comes from, but also for boosting farm income, stimulating job creation and economic development, and meeting public health and nutrition goals.

    Once you enter your zip code, the correct names and phones numbers will pop up so you can address your call or email to the appropriate recipient!

    Phone calls are much more potent!  If you make a call: When you call a Senate or House office, ask for the staff member who works on agricultural issues.  If the agriculture staffer isn’t available, leave a message and have them call you back.

    If you email: type your message in the box below, then click on the submit button.  Try to put the message in your own words.

    The simple message to address to EACH representative that appears after you enter your zip code:

    I am a constituent.  I urge Senator/Congress(wo)man __________  to co-sponsor the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. This legislation is about to be introduced in the House and Senate.  It will help boost farm income and meet consumer demand.  It’s a job creator and a cost-effective, smart investment.  Can I count on Senator/Congress(wo)man_________ to be a co-sponsor?
    -    If your Senator will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Senator Sherrod Brown’s office.
    -    If your Representative will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Representative Chellie Pingree’s office.

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    Please act today for a chance you have only once every 5 years to truly transform our food and farm system and protect our natural resources through the federal farm bill.

    Once you enter your zip code, the correct names and phones numbers will pop up so you can address your call or email to the appropriate recipient!

    If you call: Phone calls are much more potent! If the line is busy, please leave a brief message on the voicemail.

    If you email: type your message in the box below, then click on the submit button. Try to put the message in your own words.

    The simple message to address to each representative that appears after you enter your zip code: 
      I am a constituent.  I have heard the Agriculture Committees are trying to write the farm bill this week, behind closed doors.   I urge Senator _____/Representative _____ to speak out and oppose any farm bill deal that makes big cuts to conservation and nutrition programs, fails to restore funding for local food and beginning farmer programs, or keeps subsidizing commodity production without strict per farm limits.

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    Please act today for a chance you have only once every 5 years to truly transform our food and farm system and protect our natural resources through the federal farm bill.

    Once you enter your zip code, the correct names and phones numbers will pop up so you can address your call or email to the appropriate recipient!

    If you call: Phone calls are much more potent! If the line is busy, please leave a brief message on the voicemail.

    If you email: type your message in the box below, then click on the submit button. Try to put the message in your own words.

    Use the talking points below to guide you.

    Talking points to address to each representative that appears after you enter your zip code:  I am a constituent, ______ (calling/writing) Senator/Represenative ________ to deliver this message:

    •    The proposed farm conservation cuts are too big and should be reduced. In particular, the Conservation Stewardship Program funding should be retained and Wetlands Reserve Program funding should be restored. 
    •    Farm commodity program reform should include caps on the amount of subsidy any one farm can receive.  Loopholes allowing multiple subsidy payments to single farms should be closed. Conservation requirements should be attached to all forms of revenue and crop insurance subsidies.
    •    The farm bill must reinvest at least $1 billion a year in innovative, job-creating programs for rural economic development, local and regional food systems, renewable energy, organic farming, and young and beginning farmers.

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    The Super Committee has unprecedented power and is making choices right now. The budget cuts could determine the future of food, farming, and the environment for a decade or more!

    Both your Senators will be advising the Super Committee and making decisions quickly. Please call today.

    Once you enter your zip code below, the correct names and phone numbers will pop up!

    The Message is Simple:  I am a constituent, calling to urge Senator ______ to support a fair and balanced approach to food and agricultural spending in the deficit reduction bill:

    •  - Farm conservation and environmental programs have already been cut deeply and should not be cut any further. 
    •  - Farm commodity, insurance, and disaster program reform is long overdue. Reform should be done in a way that reduces spending, maintains a smaller more targeted farm safety net, and reinvests in job-creating rural economic development, local and regional food systems, and young and beginning farmers

    P.S. If the line is busy, please leave a brief message on the voicemail.


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    The Super Committee has unprecedented power and is making choices right now. The budget cuts could determine the future of food, farming, and the environment for a decade or more!

    Your Representative and both your Senators will be advising the Super Committee and making decisions quickly. Please call today.

    Once you enter your zip code below, the correct names and phone numbers will pop up!

    The Message is Simple:  I am a constituent, calling to urge Senator/Representative ______ to support a fair and balanced approach to food and agricultural spending in the deficit reduction bill:

    •  - Farm conservation and environmental programs have already been cut deeply and should not be cut any further. 
    •  - Farm commodity, insurance, and disaster program reform is long overdue. Reform should be done in a way that reduces spending, maintains a smaller more targeted farm safety net, and reinvests in job-creating rural economic development, local and regional food systems, and young and beginning farmers

    P.S. If the line is busy, please leave a brief message on the voicemail.


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    The Super Committee has unprecedented power and is making choices right now. The budget cuts could determine the future of food, farming, and the environment for a decade or more!

    Your Senator will be advising the Super Committee and making decisions quickly. Please make a phone call today.

    Once you enter your zip code below, the correct names and phone numbers will pop up!

    The Message is Simple:  I am a constituent, calling to urge Senator ______ to support a fair and balanced approach to food and agricultural spending in the deficit reduction bill:

    •  - Farm conservation and environmental programs have already been cut deeply and should not be cut any further. 
    •  - Farm commodity, insurance, and disaster program reform is long overdue. Reform should be done in a way that reduces spending, maintains a smaller more targeted farm safety net, and reinvests in job-creating rural economic development, local and regional food systems, and young and beginning farmers

    P.S. If the line is busy, please leave a brief message on the voicemail.


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    Ask your Two Senators and your Representative to Co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011!

    It easy to call:
    •    When you call a Senate or House office, ask for the staff member who works on agricultural issues. If the agriculture staffer isn’t available, leave a message and have them call you back.

    The Message is Simple:
    •    I am a constituent, calling to urge Senator/Congress(wo)man __________ to co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011.   This legislation is being introduced in the House and Senate next week.  It will help new farmers and ranchers get started in agriculture.  It’s a jobs creator and a cost effective smart investment.  Can I count on Senator/Congress(wo)man_________ to be a co-sponsor?

                  - If your Senator will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Senator Tom Harkin or Senator John Thune

                  - If your Representative will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Representative Tim Walz

    P.S. It is possible agriculture staffers will ask for a copy of the bill or for additional information.  Feel free to share the summary of the bill at this link

    Once you enter your zip code and address below, the phone number for your Senators and Representative will pop up!

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    Ask your Two Senators and your Representative to Co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011!


    Who will grow food for future generations? The current farm population is aging rapidly, and while there are many people that want to farm and ranch they face tremendous obstacles entering this field. To ensure a healthy, safe, and prosperous future America urgently needs new farmers.

    Next week the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) will be joining members of Congress and other farm groups in introducing the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011. 

    The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011 is a jobs creator that helps new farmers and ranchers get a start. This is a remarkable opportunity to break down barriers to entry and give real support to aspiring farmers across this nation.  It will expand and improve upon proven programs that provide tools and incentives to ensure the effective start-up and success of small and mid-sized family farmers across the country.

    It easy to call:
    •    When you call a Senate or House office, ask for the staff member who works on agricultural issues. If the agriculture staffer isn’t available, leave a message and have them call you back.

    The Message is Simple:
    •    I am a constituent, calling to urge Senator/Congress(wo)man __________ to co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011.   This legislation is being introduced in the House and Senate next week.  It will help new farmers and ranchers get started in agriculture.  It’s a jobs creator and a cost effective smart investment.  Can I count on Senator/Congress(wo)man_________ to be a co-sponsor?

                  - If your Senator will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Senator Tom Harkin or Senator John Thune

                  - If your Representative will co-sponsor or wants more information: Tell them to communicate with Representative Tim Walz

    P.S. It is possible agriculture staffers will ask for a copy of the bill or for additional information.  Feel free to share the summary of the bill at this link

    Once you enter your zip code and address below, the phone number for your Senators and Representative will pop up!

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    The Super Committee has unprecedented power and is making choices right now. The budget cuts could determine the future of food, farming, and the environment for a decade or more!

    Your Representative and Senator will be advising the Super Committee and making decisions quickly. Please call today.

    Once you enter your zip code below, the correct names and phone numbers will pop up!

    The Message is Simple:  I am a constituent, calling to urge Representative/Senator ______ to support a fair and balanced approach to food and agricultural spending in the deficit reduction bill:

    •  - Farm conservation and environmental programs have already been cut deeply and should not be cut any further. 
    •  - Farm commodity, insurance, and disaster program reform is long overdue. Reform should be done in a way that reduces spending, maintains a smaller more targeted farm safety net, and reinvests in job-creating rural economic development, local and regional food systems, and young and beginning farmers

    P.S. If the line is busy, please leave a brief message on the voicemail.


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    The Super Committee has unprecedented power and is making choices right now. The budget cuts could determine the future of food, farming, and the environment for a decade or more!

    Your Representative will be advising the Super Committee and making decisions quickly.
    Please make a phone call today.

    Once you enter your zip code below, the correct names and phone numbers will pop up!

    The Message is Simple:  I am a constituent, calling to urge Representative ______ to support a fair and balanced approach to food and agricultural spending in the deficit reduction bill:

    •  - Farm conservation and environmental programs have already been cut deeply and should not be cut any further. 
    •  - Farm commodity, insurance, and disaster program reform is long overdue. Reform should be done in a way that reduces spending, maintains a smaller more targeted farm safety net, and reinvests in job-creating rural economic development, local and regional food systems, and young and beginning farmers

    P.S. If the line is busy, please leave a brief message on the voicemail.


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    On Tuesday, June 28th participate in the National Day of Action to protest the huge cuts to farm bill conservation programs and prohibitions on support for local food in the House of Representative-passed spending bill.  Your Senator needs to hear from you that the federal budget shouldn't be balanced on the back of conservation programs.

    It’s easy to call:  Enter your zip code in the box below to get phone numbers for your Senators.  Call both of your Senators and ask to speak to the staff member responsible for agriculture.  If the staff member is unavailable leave a message with the receptionist or a voice mail message.   Be sure to identify yourself as a constituent and a farmer or a consumer and to leave a call back number.

    Message: Tell them the Senate needs to protect farm bill conservation program spending and programs essential to promoting local and regional farm and food systems.   Tell them the House agriculture spending bill is extreme and unfair.

    Additional Talking Points:

    1.    The Senate needs to protect farm bill conservation programs from further spending cuts.  Conservation programs were cut by $500 million in fiscal year 2011 and the House is proposing an additional cut of $1 billion for fiscal year 2012 to the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program.  These cuts will require USDA to break contracts with farmers who have committed to conservation practices and they are disproportionate to other spending cuts.
    2.    Conservation programs are consistently oversubscribed with long waiting lists of farmers wanting to implement conservation systems.  Conservation programs are effective - creating jobs while protecting our future agricultural capacity for future generations. 
    3.    Conservation program spending has been slashed while funding for commodity programs remains untouched.   If cuts to mandatory funding are to be made, then everything has to be on the table.
    4.    The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF, KYF) provides crucial coordination and public outreach to build new income opportunities for farmers producing for the local and regional markets.  These markets are essential to rural economic recovery and cutting KYF, KYF is shortsighted and extreme.
    5.    Development of local and regional food systems and markets is a job creator and a good investment in public health.  
     

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    Ask the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) to Bring Badly Needed Capital to Local and Regional Food System Farmers

    Is supporting your local farmer by visiting your farmers market, CSA, food coop, or other local food source important to you? This is an exceptional opportunity to make sure your local farmers have the resources they need to continue to grow the local food economy.

    The Farm Credit System (FCS) supplies nearly 40% of all U.S. farm financing and has the capacity to provide millions of dollars in capital and technical assistance to local food producers, and to leverage other sources of capital for the task of rebuilding our local and regional food system infrastructure.

    Use the talking points below to compose your own comment.  It is important that you put the comment in your own words and that you include a description of how the rule might impact you, your farm, or your community.  Choose the talking points you feel most strongly about.  Type your comment in the box below, then click on the submit button.  

    Talking Points: 

    Thank you for this opportunity to provide comment on ways the FCS can better serve small and midsized, local and regional food producers.  We support your efforts to diversify the FCS loan portfolio and would ask that in defining what needs to be included in FCS marketing plans that you include:

    1. A requirement that each FCS institution create a baseline analysis of producers who meet the farm bill definition of local and regional food producers by number of borrowers, by loan volume, and other key characteristics.

    2. An investment goal for local and regional food producers of not less than 10% of each institution’s capital within 5 years.

    3. A plan for conducting outreach to local and regional food producers.   

    4. A requirement that such an outreach plan and periodic progress reports be made public.

    5. A commitment to adding local and regional food producers to the FCS board.

    6. A plan for providing staff development training to FCS personnel across the full spectrum of lending, accounting, farm transfer and business planning services appropriate for serving local and regional food producers.
     
    7. A plan for developing lending and business support products with terms and benefits appropriate for local and regional food producers.

    8. An inventory of strengths and weaknesses of financing for local and regional food infrastructure (aggregation, processing, distributing, etc.) and an FCA plan for how to use FCS local and regional food producer financing to leverage other public and private capital necessary to address the larger weaknesses in the rest of the local and regional food supply chain.

  • Take Action

  • (No Title)

    .

    "Big Ag" is at it Again

    The most powerful “Big Ag” players in the leafy green industry are pushing the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA).   The sellers, processors, and distributors that sign on to the rule will require that the farmers they purchase from comply with its standards. The rule adds a second and conflicting layer of food safety standards and audits on top of FDA food safety rules.

    This confusing and duplicative rule could effectively shut small and mid-sized farmers out
    of the leafy greens market
    .  Tell the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to withdraw their unnecessary and confusing rule.


    Add your comments to the box below and then click on the submit button.  Use the following talking points to help compose your comment.  It is best, however, if you use your own words.

    1.    The Agricultural Marketing Service is NOT a food safety agency and it should leave food safety regulation to the Food and Drug Administration.   AMS staff is made up of economists and marketing specialists who convene industry to reach agreement on orderly marketing of produce.  They are NOT food safety scientists.

    2.    The governance structure for this agreement is dominated by processors and distributers and provides only token representation for farmers and consumers.  The standards developed under this rule are likely to be driven by the most powerful voices and the largest players in the leafy greens market to the detriment of small and mid-sized farmers and processors.

    3.    Consumers expect food safety standards to apply to all produce, not just those subject to a marketing agreement.  Food safety should not be used to gain a competitive advantage in the market place.

    4.    If a final rule is issued it should include those provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that provide food safety alternative compliance measures for small and mid-sized producers and processors.   Food safety must be achieved without obstructing the growing interest and investments in producing for local and regional food systems.  Broad access to these growing markets is vital to rural economic recovery, public health and nutritional well-being.

  • (No Title)

    ..       

    Tools for a Profitable and Sustainable Agriculture

    Making a phone call to your Senator can be one of the most effective ways to influence their votes and their opinions.  And it has never been more important to pick up the phone and let Senator Kohl know what you think.   SARE and NSAIS can be powerful engines for rural economic recovery but only if they are funded.  SARE funding has been stagnate for years and NSAIS was completely defunded in fiscal year 2011. 

    Please Call. 

    Senator Herb Kohl is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Agricultural Appropriations
    and he will soon be making critical decisions about fiscal year 2012 funding. 

  • (No Title)

    REPORT A CALL

    Making a phone call to your Senators and Representative can be one of the most effective ways to influence their votes and their opinions.   And it has never been more important to pick up the phone and let them know how important these programs are to your farm and your local or regional economy.   Fiscal year 2012 is a critical year for programs that support sustainable and organic agriculture and we thank you for making the call.  

    Please take a minute to let us know how the call went.  Type your report directly in the letter box below.  Your message will go directly to NSAC.

  • (No Title)


    Senator Schumer:  Where are Your Priorities?!!

    Tell Senator Schumer it is not OK to slash Farm Bill funding for conservation programs!

    On Sunday, the number three ranking Democrat in the Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, went on national TV to tell the country that Senate Democrats want to cut mandatory spending from the 2008 Farm Bill farm programs.  The only cuts to Farm Bill funding currently on the table are the programs designed to conserve natural resources and protect the environment.  

    Senator Schumer needs to hear that slashing funds that protect water quality, create wildlife habitat, save farmland, and promote a more sustainable agriculture is not the right choice for Senate leaders to be promoting.  The appropriations bill being debated by Congress is not the right place to deal with Farm Bill spending -- the 2012 Farm Bill is the right place.  But if the Farm Bill must be cut in advance of 2012, then everything needs to be on the table including the $5 billion spent on commodity subsidies in the form of direct payments - payments that go to farmers and landowners regardless of need and without regard to crop prices.  

    Please ask Senator Schumer to get his priorities right.  Write immediately.  The congressional budget negotiations are heading into their final day. 


    Type your letter in the blank box below.  Use the letter below only as a sample.  It's important that you use your own words.

    “Dear Senator Schumer,

    I urge you to push back on any budget deal that ties our hands going in to the 2012 Farm Bill debate.   Budget cuts to essential conservation programs today will limit their funding for years to come.   Farm bill spending decisions should be made by the Agriculture Committee, not by the Appropriations Committee.  If there are cuts to agriculture then everything must be on the table.  Please stand up for Farm Bill conservation programs while the negotiations continue over the government funding bill.”

  • Farm Bill Over?
  • (No Title)

    *Action Alert*

    Voice of Reason

    You already know that if the House gets its way programs that are building a healthier, more just, and environmentally sustinable food and farming system will get thrown under the bus.

    But guess what?  The Obama Administration appears ready to propose even deeper cuts to conservation programs than the Republican House!


    Someone has to be the voice of reason here.

    Don’t let the Administration gut innovative programs that reward farmers for environmental stewardship and protect fragile wetlands while leaving unscathed the $5 billion dollar a year that is spent on production subsidies in the form of direct payments – payments that go to farmers and landowners without regard to need or even crop price levels.  

    Tell U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to stand up for the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program.  If cuts are to be made then everything has to be on the table –a budget package that singles out conservation is shortsighted and unfair. 

    Your emails make a difference!

    Type your message in the box below.  Be sure to put the message in your own words. Tell the Secreatary what such deep cuts to conservation would mean for your farm, or your community or your watershed.  The message below is just a sample:  

    "I urge Secretary Vilsack to stand up for a responsible and equitable budget. As the White House negotiates with Congress on Fiscal Year 2011 funding, I am writing to ask you to stand up for the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program.  Please take the lead in defending the farm bill’s conservation programs from unfair attacks by the White House and the House of Representatives."

  • (No Title)

    .

    Thank You for Calling President Obama!

  • Reverse Corporate Control of Livestock Markets

    The Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has issued new rules that define and prohibit some of the worst corporate practices in the livestock industry.   You can comment on the new rules by typing directly into the box below.  Its best - and most effective - if you use your own words. 
       
    Tell USDA to stand firm and to not weaken the rules.
     Tell them that we need strong rules to curb corporate control over livestock and poultry markets.  We need rules that foster fair prices for farmers and ample opportunities for farmers and ranchers to pursue value-added products that respond to consumer demand for high quality food.  Aggressive enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act is essential to these aims. 


  • A Level Playing Field for Farmers and Ranchers

    .

    All of us who care about our nation’s  farmers and ranchers must tell our Senators that we support USDA’s proposed rules to restore competition and contract fairness to livestock and poultry markets.  

    Please type your message to your Senators in the box below:    

    •    Urge them to support the USDA proposed rules that restore competition and contract fairness to livestock and poultry markets.   Tell them we need a level playing field for family farmers and ranchers.  

    •    Urge them to Contact USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and express their support for proposed rule.  

  • A Level Playing Field for Farmers and Ranchers

    .

    All of us who care about our nation’s  farmers and ranchers must tell our Representatives that we support USDA’s proposed rules to restore competition and contract fairness to livestock and poultry markets.  

    Please type your message to your Congressman in the box below:    

    •    Urge them to support the USDA proposed rules that restore competition and contract fairness to livestock and poultry markets.   Tell them we need a level playing field for family farmers and ranchers.  

    •    Urge them to Contact USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and express their support for the proposed rule.  

  • Support the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

    The CRP Transition Incentives Program, will offer incentives to land owners at the end of their CRP contracts to sell or lease the land to beginning and minority producers using sustainable or organic farming practices.   

    Please urge the Farm Services Agency (FSA) to do all it can to promote the program among beginning farmers seeking land and farmers whose contracts are expiring.

    Use the letter below as a guide but edit the letter to put the comment in your own words. 

  • (No Title)

     Comment on the Biomass Crop Assistance Program 

    Help Make the Next Generation of Biofuels Sustainable!  

    You can type your comments directly into the box below.  It's best to use your own words but feel free to use these talking points to inform your comment.   

    Urge USDA to make the following changes to the BCAP Proposed Rule:

    1.  Target BCAP Project funding to projects that establish perennial crops and trees, with participating farmers who have a conservation plan approved by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that addresses soil, water quality, wildlife habitat and other resource concerns.

    2.  Give a higher priority to BCAP Projects that include local ownership of the biomass facility, demonstrate local economic benefits, and include the participation of beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers.   
    3.  Rein in the wasteful spending on the CHST subsidy.  USDA has handed out more than $500 million dollars in subsidies since June of last year with no regard for the economic or environmental consequences.  The USDA should either:   

    a)      Limit CHST subsidies to land where farmers or foresters are participating in BCAP projects to establish new bioenergy trees and crops and require that the conservation or forest plan for the project includes the CHST activities; or

    b)      If CHST funding is not limited to BCAP project land, CHST funding should only be allowed for new sources of biomass and only in instances where the biomass allows a bioenergy facility to produce additional renewable energy.  CHST funding should not be used for residues from any crop that is eligible for Farm Bill commodity program payments.

  • CSP Sign On Letter


    Please consider adding your organization’s name to our letter urging Secretary Vilsack to make critical improvements to the Conservation Stewardship Program and to initiate a 2010 Sign up as soon as possible.  

    The letter urges Secretary Vilsack to:
    •    ensure that the program effectively rewards sustainable and organic farming systems  
    •    base CSP points and payments on environmental outcomes rather than on when a practice was adopted
    •    provide a minimum CSP payment for small farms
    •    better define a resource conserving crop rotation to ensure high environmental standards
    •    reinstate incentives for the transition of cropland to pasture based production

    Deadline COB March 10th.   Sign on by scrolling to the bottom and submitting your contact info or send an email to Annette@sustainableagriculture.net.  Please include "SARE Sign On" in the subject line of your email. 

  • (No Title)

    REPORT A CALL

    Phone calls to legislators can be one of the most effective means of advancing policies and programs to support sustainable and organic agriculture.  Thank you for picking up the phone and speaking to your legislators on this important issue. 

    Please take a moment to tell us a little about the results of your call. It is enormously helpful for us to know if you are getting through to your legislator and how they are responding to your call. 

    Type your report directly into the letter box below.  Your message will go directly to NSAC.