Farm Policy Roundup – March 29, 2013

Rancher with lassoTell Congress to Support a Five-Year Farm Bill

Congress is observing a two-week recess, so Senators and Representatives are at home this week and next for meetings with constituents.

Now is the perfect time to tell your legislators that you support passing a five-year farm bill that maintains strong conservation funding, that reinvests in farmland protection and that places conservation standards on fragile lands in exchange for farm safety net supports.

American Farmland Trust has a handy action center where you can send a message electronically so that your members of Congress can hear directly from you.

Claims Period for Hispanic, Women Farmers Extended

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced the extension of the voluntary claims process for Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades. All claims must now be filed by May 1, 2013.

The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can prove that USDA denied his or her application for loan or loan servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.

As announced in February 2011, the voluntary claims process will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers.

EPA Reports More than Half of U.S. Streams In Poor Condition

More than half of U.S. rivers and streams are in poor health, U.S. EPA said in a report released this week. The National Rivers and Streams Assessment is the agency’s first comprehensive survey of waterway health, and it features surveys done by more than 85 field crews during the summers of 2008 and 2009. The technicians sampled water at 1,924 sites, ranging from mountain headwater streams to the Mississippi River.

A free webcast on the findings of the NRSA 2008-2009 will be available on April 3, 2013 from 1-3 p.m. EDT.

National Partnership for Climate Solutions Issues Jobs v. Jobs Report

The National Partnership for Climate Solutions (NPCS) released a report this week revealing that protecting jobs by opposing policies that cut greenhouse gas emissions can destroy as many jobs as they save. Moreover, the report found that growth of millions of future jobs is sacrificed in the process. Report provides an initial overview of the actual choices between climate and economy destroying jobs and climate and economy restoring jobs. The NPCS (formerly the Climate Summit 2013 Coalition) is a unique bi-partisan coalition of business, farm, insurance, finance, former military, youth, civil rights, climate justice, Evangelical and other faith organizations commitment to securing Presidential leadership and engaging Americans in climate solutions. AFT has contributed to the coalition via participation on its steering committee.

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  • Random Quote

    Changes in the 2012 Farm Bill appear both likely and may be significant, if not radical. Our country’s economic situation will be the most significant driver and agent of change in the 2012 Farm Bill. — Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust