Congress has begun the month-long August recess without finishing major farm and food legislation. American Farmland Trust is leading a major advocacy effort this month so that Members of Congress understand they need to pass the Farm Bill when they return in September.
We cannot allow this bill stall and risk greater uncertainty for farmland protection. The Farm Bill is the single largest federal investment in private lands conservation. Programs to protect farmland, improve water quality and provide wildlife habitat all come from Farm Bill conservation programs.
This farm bill also makes a major reform to crop insurance, putting in place conservation compliance requirements for farmers in exchange for taxpayer funded premium subsidies. This is a fair, common sense reform to crop insurance that has support of farmers and conservationists alike.
Not only does the Farm Bill protect and conserve farmland, it also invests in programs that support local food economies through local food production, beginning farmers and farmers markets. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake for programs like the Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program, Specialty Crop Block Grants and Value Added Producer Grants.
Join American Farmland Trust in sending more than 10,000 letters to members of Congress during the August recess, supporting a finished Farm Bill.
We are making great progress toward our goal with over 2400 letters sent this week alone. But we need your help. Be one of the 10,000 voices demanding that Congress finishes the Farm Bill when they return to Washington, D.C. in September!
Agriculture Secretary Celebrates Farmers Markets
In celebration of National Farmers Market Week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack recently penned the following column discussing the importance of farmers markets for rural economies and healthy communities.
“Farmers markets are an important part of America’s diverse agriculture sector,” the Secretary writes, “providing unique benefits to communities across our nation. They give Americans a chance to learn about agriculture by meeting some of the people who grow and raise our food. They provide valuable marketing opportunities for small and beginning farmers – many of whom scale up to larger regional markets and other institutions. And they help expand access to locally-grown foods that are in greater demand than ever before.”
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Senator Stabenow Honored with Inaugural Conservationist Award
Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) was recently honored by the Michigan Land Use Institute’s first Helen Miliken Legacy Award. Named for Michigan’s former first lady, the accolade recognizes a legacy of environmental advocacy and civil discourse.