Farm Bill Equity Sign-On Letter

For further information contact: Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition, Washington, DC lpicciano@ruralco.org, Monica Rainge, Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, Atlanta, GA, monicarainge@federation.coop, Savonala Horne, North Carolina Association of Black Farmers, Land Loss Prevention Project, Savi Horne, savi@landloss.org, or John Zippert, Rural Coalition, jzippert@aol.com.

June 5th, 2018

The Honorable Pat Roberts, The Honorable Debbie Stabenow,
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senate Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry Nutrition, and Forestry
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510


Support Equity and Access in the 2018 Farm Bill

Dear Chairman and Ranking Member,

As the Senate Agriculture Committee begins consideration of its 2018 Farm Bill, we the undersigned 118 organizations support your efforts to write a full, fair Farm Bill that protects and grows support for the conservation, rural development and nutrition programs that are essential to our communities, including full funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

We also urge you to write a bill that supports and expands farm livelihoods as an economic base of communities, advances intergenerational land tenure continuity, and promotes familial and community wealth for our nation’s new entry, historically underserved, and veteran producers. We further urge you to protect and expand that critical subset of programs that effectively include and support the most chronically under-served segments of agriculture as well as our urban and rural communities and cooperatives. We specifically endorse and urge you to include the following legislative packages:

1) The Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Act of 2018 (S.2839 — by Sen. Chris Van Hollen-Sen. Tina Smith and H.R.5824 by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham), which extends and strengthens the historic Outreach to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program. It would provide authority for multi-year grants in order to increase efficiency for both USDA and the end users, improve the grant review process through a new peer review requirement, and require annual public reports. The bill strengthens systems to track progress in serving these constituencies by making publicly available reports on changes in program participation to the county level.

2) The Assist Farmers and Ranchers Operating on Heirs’ Property to Participate in USDA Programs Act of 2018 (by Sen. Doug Jones and Rep. Marcia Fudge), which provides statutory authority to allow producers farming on land that is held by undivided interests without administrative authority (heirs’ property, or property where owners passed away without leaving a will or assigning an executor) to secure access to USDA programs. This bill authorizes acceptance of alternate forms of documentation defining who controls the land, which would allow many more farm operators to qualify to participate in farm and conservation programs. FSA would also be authorized to loan funds to qualified intermediaries to relend to families to resolve heirs’ property issues and clear title to farm land. Finally, the bill authorizes data collection and comprehensive analysis on trends in farmland ownership and operation, and transitions of farms and ranches to a new generation of owners and operators. The studies authorized would improve our understanding of the impact of unresolved land tenure issues on the ability of producers to operate farms and pass them on to new generations.

3) The Next Generation in Agriculture Act (S. 2762 by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Sen. Susan Collins), which breaks down additional barriers faced by new entry operators and strengthens real support for the next generation of producers. The bill permanently reauthorizes and strengthens the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, including by eliminating the matching requirement; and adds new authority for coordinators at USDA to improve delivery and outreach to young and beginning farmers.

4) Farm Credit Access – We urge the committee to assure that USDA farm loan programs continue to serve diverse small and mid-scale farms and provide a safety net for all farmers. The Committee should resist calls for significant increases in guaranteed loan limits. Instead, the Committee should enhance protections for guaranteed borrowers, and provide moderate increases in limits for direct farm ownership loans. The current USDA loan portfolio demonstrates the need for additional appropriations for guaranteed loans, not increased loan size. Only in direct farm ownership loans does current utilization demonstrate need for increased loan limits and funding.

We understand the challenge the Committee faces in investing the limited funds available to support the full range of agriculture, conservation, and rural programs, while protecting nutrition programs to assist those who need it most. However, any additional support that could be directed to the programs detailed in this letter would represent an important investment in the future of our agriculture and food system.


Sincerely yours,


National Organizations (City State)
Rural Coalition Washington DC
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund Atlanta GA
North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project Durham NC
and
ActionAid USA Washington DC
Agroecology Research-Action Collective Berkeley CA
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas Oxnard CA
American Agriculture Movement Washington DC
American Indian Mothers Inc. Shannon NC
American Sustainable Business Council Washington DC
Asian American Farmers Alliance San Diego CA
Bioregional Strategies Albuquerque NM
Black Emergency Managers Association International Washington DC
Fair Food Network Ann Arbor MI
Family Farm Defenders Madison WI
Farm Aid Boston MA
FoodCorps Washington DC
Food & Water Watch Washington DC
Friends of the Earth Washington DC
Global Justice Ecology Project Buffalo NY
GreenLatinos Washington DC
Indian Nations Conservation Alliance Twin Bridges MT
Indigenous Environmental Network Bemidji MN
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Minneapolis MN
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Baltimore MD
Justice Action Mobilization Network Charlotte NC
National Family Farm Coalition Washington DC
National Hmong American Farmers, Inc. Fresno CA
National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association Washington DC
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Washington DC
National Young Farmers Coalition Hudson NY
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Inc. Oklahoma City OK
Organic Consumers Association Finland MN
Pesticide Action Network Berkeley CA
Radiant Health Boulder CO
Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecroppers Fund Orangeburg SC
Rural Development Leadership Network New York NY
Sierra Club Washington DC
The Common Market Philadelphia PA
The Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA Pittsboro NC
Transformative Justice Coalition Washington DC
Union of Concerned Scientists Washington DC


Regional and State Organizations (City State)
AFGE Local 3354 St. Louis MO
Agroecology Research Action-Collective (ARC) Berkeley CA
Alabama State Association of Cooperatives Forkland AL
A Quarter Circle Lazy 5Ranch LLC Antonito CO
Atrisco Land Grant Atrisco NM
Atrisco Land Rights Council Atrisco NM
Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group Greenbelt MD
Black Farmers and Ranchers New Mexico Puebitos NM
Black Mesa Farm Los Padillas NM
Border Agricultural Workers Project El Paso TX
California FarmLink Aptos CA
California Institute for Rural Studies Davis CA
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Pittsboro NC/SC
Casa Grande Farms Atrisco NM
Cottage House Inc., Ariton AL
Coyote Farmhouse Hopi Nation AZ
CT NOFA: The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut Derby CT
Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley Berkeley CA
Desert Forge Foundation Albuquerque NM
Earth Ethics Pensacola FL
Fair Farms Maryland Takoma Park MD
Farmers Daughters Corrales NM
Food & Sustainable Agriculture Systems Program, College of the Atlantic Bar Harbor ME
Food for Maine’s Future Knox ME
Future Harvest CASA MD, VA, WVA, DE, DC
Georgia Organics Atlanta GA
Greene County Newspaper Company Eutaw AL
Greener Partners Philadelphia & Norristown PA
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Des Moines IA
Just Food New York City NY
Kansas Black Farmers Association Nicodemus KS
Kansas Rural Center Topeka KS
Land Stewardship Project Montevideo MN
Lideras Campesinas Oxnard CA
LiveWell Colorado Denver CO
Manito Ranches Atrisco NM
Merced Del Pueblo De San Joaquin Del Rio de Chama Gallina NM
Michigan Food & Farming Systems East Lansing MI
Michigan Young Farmer Coalition Canton MI
Missouri Rural Crisis Center Columbia MO
MomTees High Energy Food Atrisco NM
Montezuma Farms Atrisco NM
MOSES La Cross WI
NM Acequia Association Santa Fe NM
NM Agricultural Policy Council Sante Fe NM
NOFA-VT Richmond VT
Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council Barre MA
Northeast Organic Farming Association/ Massachusetts Chapter Barre MA
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire Concord NH
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York Farmington NY
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Philadelphia PA
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance Gloucester MA
Now You Know New Mexico Atrisco NM
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Columbus OH
Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts Oklahoma City OK
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Inc. Oklahoma City OK
Operation Spring Plant, Inc Oxford NC
Orona Ranch Atrisco NM
Planting Justice Oakland CA
PLBA Housing Development Corporation Gainesville, AL AL
Prince George’s County Food Equity Council Prince Georges Co. MD
Range Café Albuquerque NM
Rural Advancement Foundation International Pittsboro NC
Soil Generation Philadelphia PA
Solidarity Farm Pauma Valley CA
Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville Louisville KY
Sustainable Communities Network Lexington KY
Texas Mexico Border Coalition CBO San Isidro TX
The Agrarian Adventure Ann Arbor MI
The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. Apopka FL
Tierra del Sol Las Cruces NM
University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program Ann Arbor MI
Wellsave Vancouver WA
Winds of Change Advocacy Germantown MD
World Farmers Lancaster MA

Add Your Organization Here

Also see our first blog post of many to come in our series on how to build a better Farm Bill Here

Posted in Sign On Letters.