Friday, May 4, 2012
Congress is considering a new farm bill, and on April 26th, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to modify the existing system of agricultural subsidies, terminating the ability of industrial scale farms to collect millions of dollars in subsidies by allowing passive investors to be counted as farm “managers.” By closing that loophole, among other changes, it is estimated that the committee bill would save taxpayers $23 billion dollars over the next ten years.
Good news for the environment was a provision in the committee bill for a nationwide “Sodsaver” program, to protect native grass and prairie lands. Reform advocates, however, like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, would like even more reforms. “Most noticeably,” said their spokesperson Ferd Hoefner, “the committee failed to provide adequate funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, thus limiting critical resources that new farmers need to succeed.”
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition wants the farm bill to expand opportunities for family farmers to “produce good food, sustain the environment, and contribute to vibrant communities.” In our Region, this could help sustain local agriculture, which is ever more focused on organic production and local marketing. You can find out more about the BFROA, or the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, at kusp.org/landuse