ACTION ALERT: Call Your House Representative to Support FOTO (2501+BFRDP) Dear Colleague Letter

CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE. Together we can get at least 100 signatories!

Dear Rural Coalition Members and Friends,

Now is the time to reach out to your congressional representatives to urge them to sign on to the *FOTO (2501/BFRDP) “Dear Colleague Letter” for the 2018 Farm Bill.

*FOTO is what they are calling the combined “2501” and beginning farmer program. In short, this provision will secure funding for and make improvements to programs that serve young, new entry, veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. For more information on our work leading up to the letter, scroll to the bottom of the page.

The deadline is 10AM Eastern Time (7am PT) on Tuesday, Sept. 4th

1. Please Call!

Find the number for your representative here: (

2. Talking Points:

a. As the 2018 Farm Bill moves to conference, we ask your support by signing an important Dear Colleague letter you should have received from Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Rep. Sanford Bishop.”

b. The letter to the Farm Bill Conference Committee supports accepting Section 12301 of the Senate Farm Bill. This section provides permanent authorization, and permanent baseline funding of $50 million annually, split equally between the for 2501/Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, and the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program.

c. These services are urgently needed by diverse family farmers, including Latino, Asian Pacific American, new entry, immigrant and veteran farmers, and farmworkers, especially farmworker women.

d. Due to the quick approach of staff deliberations on this section of the Farm Bill we wanted to remind you that the deadline to sign this letter is 10AM Eastern Time (7am PT) on Tuesday, Sept. 4th.

3. If your members or their staff have any questions about the letter ask them to please contact Levi Patterson with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan’s Office at or Rep. Bishops’s office at


We believe that linking the two complementary programs strengthens them both, with OASDVFR supporting hands on technical assistance and outreach to historically underserved farmers and BFRDP focusing on education and training for new entry farmers and ranchers. The two programs would also be better connected to the relevant Advisory Committees that sit together in the Office of Advocacy and Outreach.

You and your fellow Rural Coalition members have worked hard to secure sponsorship of the Dear Colleague Letter by Ben Lujan (New Mexico) and Sanford Bishop (Georgia).

Now we are asking members of Congress to sign a Dear Colleague Letter, informing the Conference Committee that they support and will ensure passage of the final bill with this provision.

The Dear Colleague Letter recommends the conference Section 12301 of the Senate bill as a full substitute to Sections 7507 and 11201 of the House Bill.)
That section would provide permanent authorization to United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (OASDVFR) (also known as the 2501 Program) and the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. The new authority also merges the authorizations and provides permanent direct baseline funding to the two programs of $50 million annually, shared equally. Authority for additional discretionary funds of up to $50 million annually is also included through 2023.

Rural Co Blog Posts and References:

See our post: “Keep Up the Fight for Equity in the Farm Bill!”

More information on OASDVFR (2501 Program):

More information on BFRDP:

Thank you for contacting your Representatives TODAY! It is essential that we urge our Representatives to support the FOTO “Dear Colleague Letter.”

Posted in Blog, Press Releases.