Farm and Food Policy Platform
February 15, 2007
Contact: Kari Hamerschlag at kariham [at] earthlink [dot] net or 510-295-4781
For the complete document go to www.calfoodandfarming.org
Summary--2007 FARM AND FOOD POLICY PLATFORM
In 2007, Congress will renew the Farm Bill. Unfortunately, what we want and need from our national farm and food policy and what the Farm Bill has delivered have not been in balance. Historically, the majority of farm payments have been in the form of subsidies that flow disproportionately to very large farms growing a handful of commodity crops in a few regions of the country. Much less support has gone to diversified farming regions like California. And far too little has gone to promote regional food systems and sustainable farming practices that deliver multiple environmental, economic benefits, as well as a diverse supply of healthy foods.
Agriculture is among California’s most important economic sectors. In 2005, our farmers and ranchers produced nearly $31 billion worth of goods, roughly 50% of the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts and more than half of all organic produce sold in the US. Our farmers, especially small- and mid-sized growers, are facing increasing pressures including high energy costs, environmental challenges, development and regulatory pressures, and stiff competition from developing countries. Despite our agricultural bounty, millions of families across the state suffer from poverty, hunger and poor nutrition The Food Stamp program is supposed to help families fight hunger and malnutrition, yet millions of California’s in need do not use or have access to this program. And although we produce 350 varieties of crops in California, many inner cities and isolated rural areas have no access to retail grocery outlets, let alone farmers’ markets or other sources for fresh food. In recent years, new innovative models have emerged to address these gaps, such as farmers markets, farm to institution programs, new investment in retail outlets, and urban farms. Yet, federal policy has under invested in these efforts and undervalued the impact that they have on total community health – from improving nutrition and reducing obesity to creating jobs and increasing civic participation.
Nearly $300 billion in taxpayer dollars is at stake over the next five years. The California Coalition for Food and Farming’s alliance of more than 45 environmental, agriculture, and nutrition organizations is working to bring urban and rural constituencies together to rally California Congressional support for Farm Bill legislation that embraces our vision for a more just and sustainable agriculture and food system. We advocate for a Food and Farm Bill that:
Provides farmers the support they need to protect our water, air, wildlife habitat, and farmland by increasing funding and improving the effectiveness of conservation and technical assistance programs.
Helps California maintain a vibrant and competitive agriculture sector by providing greater support for fruit and vegetable production, especially for small- and mid-sized producers, organic and sustainable agriculture, local and regional market development, and beginning and minority farmers.
Increases access to fresh, local, healthy and nutritious foods, especially in limited resource communities of color, by investing in new retail, improving the quality and quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables served in schools, expanding farmers’ markets, and increasing the buying power of food stamp recipients, the elderly and consumers with limited income.
Increases support for renewable energy and environmentally sound biofuels development.
Assures equity and fairness by implementing meaningful payment limitation reform and gradually replacing commodity subsidies with a new system of farm income stabilization policies.
We invite California farmers, NGOs, businesses, academics, students, state and city agencies, food policy councils, industry associations, and others who share our goals to join our efforts to get California’s Congressional delegation to sponsor Farm Bill legislation that supports our vision for a more sustainable agriculture and food system. Our summary proposals are included below.
We invite you review the full draft and sign onto this platform at www.calfoodandfarming.org. if you would like to get involved in our campaign, contact Kari Hamerschlag at kariham [at] earthlink [dot] net or 510-295-4781
SUMMARY OF CALIFORNIA COALITION FOR FOOD AND FARMING PROPOSALS
Fund the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) at $2 billion year, establish EQIP cost share payments for organic farming and prohibit EQIP funding for new or expanded Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
Fully fund the Conservation Security Program (CSP) at $3 billion, streamline the application process for organic growers and prioritize evaluation of organic conservation practices (such as cover cropping, composting and crop rotations).
Establish an ecologically based “Integrated Pest Management Initiative” in regions with significant pesticide threats and where producers need help to comply with state regulations.
Increase technical assistance funding and access for specialty crop and transitional/organic producers.
Establish a National Organic Conversion and Stewardship Incentive Program funded at $50 million annually.
Expand existing funding of Farm and Ranch Land Protection from $100 to $300 million per year.
Increase Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program to $500 million per year.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND NEW MARKETS
Increase funding for the Value-Added Producer Grant Program to $60 million, adding a new grant component to support the development of value chains with social, environmental, fair labor and/or fair trade standards.
Authorize $45 million in annual mandatory funding for regional planning and technical assistance pilot projects targeting transportation and processing infrastructure to serve local and regional markets (especially institutional markets).
Expand Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.
Increase funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to $20 million.
Establish a new Competition Title that helps restore fairness and efficiency to market forces.
Reduce Regulatory Barriers for Local Meat Processing in order to better support the growing local and regional market demand for natural meat products.
Require and authorize funds for implementation of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation.
SUPPORT FOR BEGINNING AND MINORITY FARMERS
Reauthorize the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, providing $20 million in mandatory funding.
Establish Individual Development Accounts, especially for beginning farmers and ranchers.
Implement an Affordable Farming Program by applying the principles of the Community Reinvestment Act to the Farm Credit System, to provide grants and interest rate subsidies for farming activities to small-scale and minority farmers.
Increase Funding for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) Program to at least $3.0 million.
Reauthorize the Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program at $25 million.
FOOD SECURITY, NUTRITION AND HEALTH
Increase food stamp benefits to help people purchase healthy foods and improve outreach and efficiency in Food Stamp delivery and nutrition education, including expanding the scope of the Food Stamp Nutrition Education program to serve all who are at risk of hunger.
Expand the scope and size of the USDA Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPGP) to $60.5 million annual mandatory spending and establish programs that supply healthful local foods to underserved markets.
Support policy changes that allow for geographical preferences and increases flexibility for institutions to buy local.
Expand the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program to all 50 states.
Increase funding for Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Programs and authorize farmers markets as WIC vendors.
Invest in urban agriculture and offer urban farmers technical assistance.
Establish research and investment programs to increase access to healthy foods through expansion of health food retail.
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
Establish mandatory funding for the Integrated Organic Program (IOP) – at least $15 million/year.
Establishing a “Fair Share” framework at Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to ensure that funding of organic agriculture research moves towards the organic share of US retail food sales. (3% at end of 2006).
Ensure current authorization for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program at $60 million.
Ensure that at least 33% or $20 million/year of the National Research Initiative (NRI) is allocated for environmentally sound food production, family farms, mircroenterprise, and other rural economic development strategies.
ALTERNATIVE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
Significantly increase funding and support for research, development, tax incentives, and technical support for farm-based renewable energy systems – from biofuels to wind power – focusing greatest attention on the most environmentally beneficial biomass feedstocks, such as native perennial grasses and forbs.
Promote local use of specialty crop biomass waste for energy production and encourage farmer ownership and control of sustainable biomasss processing facilities through credit, incentives and a $25 million grant program.