Farm Bill 2013

We have been working tirelessly to make sure the rights, needs, and interests of African-American, American-Indian, Asian-American, Euro-American, Latino, and women farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, and rural communities in the United States are included in the 2013 Farm Bill. We are also seeking a Fair Farm Bill that includes Equity for ALL. We do this at the local level with our member groups building relationships with their district representatives, at a national level with their congressional representatives and U.S. Government Agencies, and through our shared work in strategically-aligned groups, such as GOAT: "Getting Our Act Together" on the Farm Bill. We are urging Congressional Representatives to restore full funding of $20 Million a year to the 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers; and also to Protect Funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

UPDATES:

POLICY TEAM UPDATE: 5/21/2013

The 2013 Farm Bill Debate Moves to the Full Senate Floor - Action Needed!

NEXT UP - The Senate Agriculture Committee passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill and have already prepared it for Senate Floor action where debate is expected to begin today May 21st. Amendments are being introduced and now is a critical time to ask your Senators to cosponsor and vote for critical amendments on the Senate floor. We will send a fuller list of amendments later in the day. For the moment, we urge you to take rapid action to support several amendments especially important to achieving equity for all farmers.

Senate Amendments to Increase Equity in the 2013 Farm Bill

Senator Tom Udall is introducing an amendment this morning to restore funding to the Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers.

He is also working on additional amendments - one would make a receipt for service automatic for to all farmers requesting service to help assure that all farmers and ranchers receive equitable access to and uniform information about all USDA programs, and to improve access for traditional irrigation association members to expand conservation practices.

We urge you to call your two Senators as soon as possible this morning to urge them to co-sponsor and vote for Senator Tom Udall's amendment to restore funding of $17 million annually to the Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers.

Udall (NM) Receipt for Service - SUPPORT

This amendment adds authority to require the issuance of a receipt for service or denial of service to any current or prospective participant in USDA programs serving farmers and ranchers as operated by the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources and Conservation Service and in any other USDA program directly serving producers. In a time of tight resources, a receipt for service will help assure that all farmers and ranchers receive clear information on programs available to them and what they need to do to access them, and verify that information has been provided.

Also ask them to cosponsor and vote the following additional amendments critical to our communities:

Udall (NM) EQIP Acequia Language - SUPPORT

This amendment would allow USDA to make alternate payment arrangements so members of irrigation associations including acequias could receive support for conservation practices through their association so long as the payment limit for any individual producers in the association is not exceeded.

Udall (NM) EQIP Irrigation Water Saving - SUPPORT

This amendment would strengthen the requirements for producers to use EQIP irrigation funds for true water savings.

Amendment by any Senator on Expansion of the Substantially Underserved Trust Area Initiative with USDA Rural Development - SUPPORT

This amendment expands the Substantially Underserved Trust Area (SUTA) Initiative in USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service to all programs under Rural Development. The amendment will improve access to family housing and community facilities financing and business and economic development funding, providing RD with added flexibility to invest in individuals, businesses and organizations developing private sector jobs and local economies in rural trust land communities.

Click Here to Find Your Senator and the best way to contact them.

More Background on the OASDFR Program

The Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) Program helps our nation's historically underserved producers gain access to the United States Department of Agriculture's credit, commodity, conservation and other programs and services. The program supports technical assistance to producers through community-based organizations, tribes and educational institutions best prepared to reach and serve them. The proposed amendment would restore funding of $17 million annually to continue this already successful program and extend it to veterans.

Established in Section 2501 of the 1990 Farm Bill, OASDFR provides technical assistance to reduce the trend among socially disadvantaged producers of engaging in fewer farm program payments, fewer and lower-valued loans, and less outreach and training than other farmers and ranchers.
In FY 2010 and 2011, the OASDFR Program awarded a total of $38 million in competitive grants (61 awards in FY 2010 and 33 new awards in 2011). Of the 94 total project awards, 53 went to Community Based Organizations and 41 to Higher Education Institutions.
The OASDFR Program has served more than 100,000 rural constituents and has been an invaluable resource for the more than 400 counties in more than 35 states where it has been implemented.
With adequate resources, the OASDFR Program, can also provide critical support for veteran farmers and ranchers. The 2010 Census identified 21.9 million veterans in 2009, including 156,000 American Indian Veterans, 2.4 million African American Veterans, 1.2 Million Hispanic Veterans, and 265,000 Asian Veterans. Many Veterans are from rural areas.

2013 Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Mark

The Senate Agriculture Committee's Farm Bill now awaiting floor action includes only $10 million annually, same as in the House Agriculture Committee bill. (The 2008 Farm Bill included $75 million in mandatory funding for the four years of the bill or between $17 million and $20 million annually for the OASDFR Program.)

Proposed Amendment

Senator Udall's amendment to the Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill would restore and expand the funding base of the OASDFR Program. This would allow the Secretary of Agriculture to encourage and assist both socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers in participating equitably in the full range of USDA agricultural programs. Specifically the amendment would restore direct funding to $17 million a year five years to accommodate both the traditional and new constituencies of the program, and ensure that Veteran Farmers and Ranchers are able to fully benefit from the program.

Full, mandatory funding for the OASDFR Program will increase farm livelihoods and cooperatives in rural communities, advance intergenerational land tenure and promote familial and community wealth for socially disadvantaged and veteran producers.

Remember - Call you two Senators now (simply ask for them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121). Ask for the name and email address of their legislative aide handling agriculture. Speak to them to request the support of your Senator for the above amendments and stay in touch with that person all week - you can become a key and trusted source of information on agriculture for busy aides who often handle many different issues. Send a follow-up email to confirm your request, and copy that email to lpicciano@ruralco.org so we can follow up as well.

All this Week: Stay tuned, as we will be sending out sign on letters on these and other amendments as we have details. Be sure to say thanks to Senate offices for cosponsors and agreements to support equity in the farm bill.

EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE ISSUES:

- Udall's 2501 Amendment Summary
- Equity Amendments for a Fair 2013 Farm Bill Sign-On Letter
- Full and Fair Farm Bill Sign-On Letter With Support From Over 130 Organizations
- 2013 Farm Bill Equity and Access Priorities Package
- 2501 Program Brief
- Senate Ag. Committee's Title-By-Title Summary
- House Ag. Committee's Title-By-Title Summary
- Senate Version: S954 Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013
- House Version: H6083 Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013
- Sign On Letter: Statement of Community Based Groups on the House Passage of Farm Bill

ORGANIZE AND ACT:

- Let your Senators and your Representatives know what is important to you! You can reach them by asking for their office through the Capitol Switchboard at: 202-224-3121. Ask to speak to their Agriculture Legislative Assistant.

- Follow the debate by joining us on Twitter (#farmbill #fairfarmbill) and Facebook

- Participate in GOAT: "Getting Our Act Together" on the Farm Bill. GOAT is based upon a collaborative effort by approximately 150 organizations that together promote a fair farm bill with equity and sustainability.

- Sign up for our E-Update List to receive our Action Alerts with up-to-date information.