The Trump administration's $16 billion coronavirus aid package for agriculture "fails to deliver for many farmers who are the backbone of local, resilient, sustainable food systems," said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition on Wednesday. The group said small producers would be trampled by large operators in the first-come, first-served race for payments that can go as high as $750,000. (No paywall)
Climate change poses a serious threat to farmers as well as the rest of society, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in a report, released today, that calls for action “to make U.S. agriculture climate-neutral.” Steps would range from requiring farmers to meet minimum standards …
When Congress writes the 2018 farm bill, lawmakers should retain the requirement for producers to practice land stewardship if they want coverage under the federally subsidized crop insurance system, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. In The Hill newspaper, NSAC policy specialist Alyssa Charney also called for stronger enforcement of the so-called conservation compliance rules.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has put the first reorganization of the USDA in a generation into action by hiring an assistant, who will be based in his office, to oversee rural economic development efforts.
The Conservation Reserve Program, which pays landowners to take fragile land out of production, is so close to its enrollment limit that the USDA will not admit high-priority land that ordinarily could be enrolled at once.
More than 500 groups across the farm, agribusiness, anti-hunger, rural-development and land-stewardship spectrum asked lawmakers in a letter to exempt farm-bill programs from spending cuts this year or next. Often called the farm-bill coalition, the groups said it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for Congress to enact the 2018 farm bill if funding is cut from current levels.
The USDA will open a three-month enrollment period on Nov. 14 for the Conservation Stewardship Program, which pays farmers and ranchers for making soil, water and wildlife conservation a part of their daily operations. A small-farm group says producers should submit an initial application if they're interested in the program, but it says USDA has yet to fully describe its changes to CSP.
At the same time it sent three fair-play rules to the White House for review, the USDA said it will accept public comment on the most consequential of its proposals: an interim final rule on how to judge a producer's complaint of abuse by meat packers. The rule "clarifies that farmers need only prove they were treated unfairly by a company to secure legal remedy," a much easier standard to meet than now in use, says a small-farm advocacy group.
A new FDA regulation, issued as part of implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, says farms and farm-operated businesses that sell directly to customers are exempt from regulation as food facilities, a category aimed at processing plants. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the regulation would prevent undue regulation of small farms.
Leaders of the Republican-controlled House Budget Committee proposed steep cuts in federal spending in order to balance the budget in 10 years.