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Inside The Beltway -- Spring '99
Ag policy update from the Midwest Sustainable
Agriculture Working Group.
Jump down menu:
Supplemental Appropriation moves to Floor & Possible Veto
Crop Insurance Reform on Front Burner
Budget Disasters in the Making
USDA/EPA AFO Strategy
Sec. 319 Watershed Restoration Assistance
Corps Updates Wetlands Regs
Some Relief on Shared Appreciation Agreements
FDA Food Irradiation Proposal
EPA falling behind on OPs
Beginning Farmer Advisory Committee
Community Food Systems RFP
New & Notable
Previous editions of Inside the Beltway
the Beltway is Sustainable Farming Connection's online version of the Midwest
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's Washington Report. We reproduce
it with MSAWG's permission. Do not reproduce or post to any electronic network
without specific permission. Contact Brad DeVries
email@example.com for more information.
Here in our nations capital, the whole idea of March Madness
takes on a decidedly local flavor. Of course, there is the whole NCAA
basketball scene, with its dramatic tales of triumph, heartbreak, and hopeless
addicts who simply drop out of human society, at least while the games are on
It is different here, though. Official Washington is a little
like a federal version of the United Nations; since so many people here come
from somewhere else around the country, every rivalry no matter how obscure
can find local adversaries to play itself out year after year. But like the
UN, even the bloodiest of these intercollegiate hatreds takes on a gentility
and civility it might lack back in the homeland. A college
affiliation one that might get you punched in the nose this month in some
other part of the country simply means that you have somewhat conflicted
loyalties in the office betting pool. Perhaps part of this is that March in DC
means everyone needs something from someone else during appropriations season
up on Capitol Hill.
Members of Congress are busy schmoozing their
favorite Approps Committee colleagues, and pulling together those famous (but
quite secret) annual appropriations letters, asking for just a wee bit of
consideration for a variety of highway projects, university needs, or other
urgent priorities back home. Just dont call it pork -- think of it as
the other green meat.
These letters also include requests not to
overlook key programs that, thanks to the work of Margaret Krome and her cast
of thousands, should include a number of our top budget priorities. Its
also crowded here this time of year, as the confluence of good weather,
appropriations, and the start of occasional bursts of real work up on the Hill
mean that this is prime fly-in season for every group you can possibly think
of, and some you wish you hadnt.
Spring is in the air, and not
even the mobs of high-school field trippers that seem to clog most
metal-detector controlled building entrances for a few weeks here can dampen
the spirits rising with it.
As we went to press, the Senate and House had just passed emergency
supplemental bills (S. 544 & H.R. 1141). These bills contain, in addition
to hurricane relief assistance for Central America and money for Jordan, just
over $300 million in emergency agriculture funding. The House-Senate
Conference and final votes on the legislation will happen after the Easter
The Senate bill provides $106 million to support additional direct
and guaranteed farm loans ($200 million and $185 million for direct ownership
and operating loans, and $350 million and $185 million for guaranteed ownership
and operating loans, respectively), $43 million for temporary staff increases
for FSA, $100 million for flood prevention, $20 million in emergency grants to
farmworkers in California and Florida, and several other USDA items. Postponing
the final vote until April will force delays in farm credit beyond the spring
planting dates in many areas.
The emergency spending is offset in the
Senate bill with cuts to last years emergency spending bill and other
programs, including food stamps, Section 8 housing assistance, emergency
community development block grants, defense, and border patrol. The House bill
includes some of these, but relies more heavily on cuts in foreign aid. Many of
the offsets are opposed by the White House and could well result in a showdown
over the emergency measure.
Senators Kohl (D-WI) and Harkin (D-IA)
offered an amendment [with the approval of Senators Cochran (R-MS) and Lugar
(R- MO)] to provide a one-year, $28 million increase in the NRCS technical
assistance budget, providing a one-year fix to a longer term problem resulting
from the 1996 farm bill. Other efforts to get more conservation incentive money
in the supplemental were not successful.
Senator Bond (R-MO) offered
a successful amendment to provide $150 million in emergency payments to pork
and other livestock producers. We expect this money will be distributed in the
same targeted manner as the USDAs recent Small Hog Operation Payment
(SHOP) program. The recess will be an opportune time to communicate with
members of Congress on your views on conservation funding and other issues
contained in the supplemental.
Crop Insurance Reform on Front Burner
The Agriculture Committees are the midst of hearings on crop insurance
reform legislation, during which USDA has unveiled a more detailed proposal and
Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE) have put the first major bill
into the hopper.
Costs of the proposals range from $1.5 to $3
billion (over and above the existing $1.7 billion program) per year, figures
the congressional budget committees discussed with Clint Eastwood squints
glowering under their green eyeshades as they fashioned the budget resolution.
The House and Senate Budget Committees prepared budget bills that contain
nothing for crop insurance for FY 00 and only $1.5 billion per year for the
next 4 years, well short of what the $2.5 billion per year the Administrations
proposal is expected to cost.
In the Senate deliberations, Senators
Grassley (R-IA) and Conrad (D-ND) successfully added $500 million for crop
insurance in FY 00. Whether and how this $6 or $6.5 billion would be offset
with other spending cuts or funded out of the surplus remains uncertain. Both
houses passed their budget bills before leaving for recess.
Administrations proposal contains the following key points:
- Raise the lowest level of coverage (catastrophic coverage) by 50%, to 60%
of yield at 70% of average market price.
- Increase subsidies for buy-up coverage, including 50% of the additional
premium for coverage above 70% of yield at 100% of market price.
- Offer a new multi-year disaster policy to improve coverage for farmers
with successive losses.
- ; * work with the private sector to speed new products to market,
including reimbursing companies for their new product development costs.
- Authorize RMA to offer pilot projects on a nationwide basis.
- Start a pilot revenue-based livestock insurance product, with an initial
federal cost limit of $50 million per year.
- Provide $50 million for outreach and information to producers.
The Roberts-Kerrey bill (S. 529) bears many similarities to the USDA
proposal. It too would increase subsidies for higher rates of coverage,
inverting the current subsidy structure. It would address multiyear disasters
by allowing farmers with 3 or more disasters in 5 years resulting in a 25% or
greater reduction in production history to exclude one year from the 5 year
average used to determine production history. The bill would remove the
existing prohibition on insuring livestock, but offers no other proposal on
livestock. It also fails to address the issue of whole farm, all crop
coverage, although it does not remove USDAs current limited authority to
insure at the whole farm level.
Finally, the bill also:
- Provides flexibility in assigning yields to new farmers and to farmers
rotating to new crops.
- Mandates a pilot program to develop a new rating system.
- Allows companies who develop new products to receive royalties from other
companies who subsequently offer them.
- Authorizes a pilot program to give private companies exclusive marketing
rights for new products.
- Restructures the Federal Crop Insurance Commission board and gives it
oversight over RMA.
In kicking off the Senate hearings, Chairman Richard Lugar (R- IN), as is
his custom, issued a list of a dozen thought-provoking questions he would like
answered. These include:
- Are the better ways to spend money to help farmers manage risk?
- Will higher subsidies encourage more production and lower prices?
- Will higher subsidies increase participation, or only further subsidize
- Are smaller or larger farms more likely to buy insurance?
- What are the logistical barriers to livestock coverage?
- Can RMA be an effective policy developer, regulator, and insurer all at
the same time?
What about the three major issues identified by MSAWG committees? We
continue to make progress on whole farm revenue insurance coverage, with at
least verbal support from some key House and Senate Committee members and
potential help from the USDA proposals to allow nationwide pilots and to
encourage innovative product development. More definitive language will be
needed, however. Limiting subsidies to a moderate-scale of production or
including payment limitations has arisen so far only in a tangential way
related to restraining overall budgetary cost. And none of the proposals on the
table address relinking conservation requirements (highly erodible land and
wetland protections) to insurance subsidies.
MSAWG members with
concerns about this issue should contact their members of Congress as soon as
possible. Remember to make brief but pointed mention of the three points
developed by our MSAWG committees.
Budget Disasters in the Making
Despite early year predictions that the post-impeachment atmosphere would
lend itself to a degree of moderation and bipartisanship, the annual budget
battle bears all the marks of discord and division. The House and Senate budget
resolutions envision large tax cuts, big increases in defense spending, smaller
increases in education, and level funding for highways, crime, veterans, NIH
research, and a few other items.
These plans would result in roughly
10% cuts in all other domestic discretionary spending for FY 00, rising to
35-40% by 2009. The spending plans hold the 1997 balanced budget act spending caps
in place through 2002 (which for this years appropriations bills mean a
$35 billion cut from this years levels) and then increase social spending
cuts by an additional $200 billion from 2003-2009.
Earlier in the
year, the chairmen of the Appropriations Committees indicated it was not
possible to write bills that didnt break the caps. Later, they changed
their line somewhat, saying they could put together bills within the caps, but
it was not possible to find 218 House votes and 51 Senate votes for the
products that would result. Now, under pressure from the leadership, they are
forced to say it can be done, but do so with a wink and a nod.
does all this mean for us? Well, if the caps stay in place, or even if they are
selectively raised a bit, the appropriators will likely chase after all
mandatory funding accounts that are politically ripe for the picking. In
agriculture, that means all the 1996 farm bill conservation programs (except
CRP) and the 1998 research bill duo of the Initiative for Future Ag and Food
Systems and the Fund for Rural America. It also would mean few if any of the
proposed increases in the USDA budget request would survive. And finally, it
would mean fairly massive cuts in existing appropriated program accounts -- and
quite possibly the elimination of entire programs.
Bottom line? We need
to redouble our efforts to communicate the importance of programs like SARE, or
stand ready to lose them. Today would not be too late to express your views.
Everyone in an ag appropriations district or state should have already received
an action alert from the Campaign.
USDA-EPA Release AFO Strategy
On March 9, 1999, the USDA and the EPA released the Unified National
Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations, a significant part of the
administration's Clean Water Action Plan. A copy of the Strategy is posted on
the Web at http://www.epa.gov/owm/finafost.htm.
can also request a copy from the USDA by calling (202) 720-5974 or by calling
Martha Noble at the SAC office (202) 547-5754 or e-mailing her at
firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the EPA
has posted comments submitted on the Draft version of the Strategy on the Web
Strategy contains a few significant improvements over the draft version but
taken as a whole the Strategy still appears to rely primarily on mitigating
surface water quality problems arising from Concentrated Animal Feeding
Operations (CAFOs), only one of the many problems of large-scale factory farms.
The Strategy also defers many major issues to state regulatory agencies under
federal guidance documents that are currently being developed. A brief summary
of the major changes to the Strategy includes:
- Higher Profile for Sustainable Agricultural Practices and Systems.
We here at SAC are gratified to see the efforts of our members at the listening
sessions and in comments payoff in the form of additional language in the
Strategy concerning sustainable agriculture. A new guiding principle "promote,
support, and provide incentives for the use of sustainable agricultural
practices and systems" has been added to the Strategy and additional
references to sustainable practices are now sprinkled throughout the Strategy.
Of course, we still have to work to ensure that our voice is heard in defining
"sustainable agricultural practices and systems" and that this
principle is actually implemented. But its still nice to be noticed.
Flattery, they say, is the sincerest form of insincerity.
- Vertical Integrator Liability. The Strategy contains an important
partial victory. EPA recommends that an entity that has "substantial
operation control" over a CAFO should be a co-permittee with the CAFO's
owner. This provision would most likely cover a vertical integrator who
contracts with a farmer to raise livestock and exerts control over the CAFO
through contract provisions or requires certain design and operational features
as a condition of entering into a production contract. EPA has indicated to us
in a briefing, however, that this is only a recommendation and that it will not
compel states to require vertical integrator liability.
- Land Application and Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs).
The final version of the Strategy does not weaken the requirement of the draft
version that CNMPs for handling, storage, and land application of CAFO waste be
included within the CAFO NPDES permit. The final version makes an important
improvement by requiring CAFO owners who move manure off site to keep detailed
records and obtain certification from the off site recipient that it has a
- State Program Flexibility and the Concept of "Functionally
Equivalent" to NPDES Regulations. In response to the National
Governors Association and others, the final version of the Strategy includes
numerous references to providing "appropriate flexibility" for States
and Tribes to meet the national performance expectation for AFOs. In addition,
the Strategy provides that the EPA can review existing state regulatory
programs and determine if they are "functionally equivalent" to the
federal CAFO NPDES program.
It is not clear if this concept differs
from determinations made by EPA in granting state authority over other types of
NPDES permits, nor is it clear whether equivalency determinations are for the
short or long term. The Strategy refers to EPAs general regulatory
authority for reviewing proposed amendments to state NPDES programs, a process
that requires some public notice. We assume that states can begin submitting
requests for a "functional equivalent" determination when the EPA
guidance on the CAFO permit is finalized in August 1999. EPA has indicated
that states, which want authority to administer the CAFO NPDES permits, should
submit their requests by October 1, 1999.
- General v. Individual Permits. The Strategy does not require that
all CAFOs over 1000 animal units obtain an individual NPDES permit. Instead,
EPA recommends that for most existing CAFOs, states use a statewide general
permit. EPA does recommend that states issue individual permits for
exceptionally large existing CAFOs and new or expanding CAFOs. The EPA notes
in the Strategy that it will consider increasing the amount of public
participation in the general permit process but gives no details. The Strategy,
however, also includes new references to "confidential business
information" which will not be made available to the public.
The next steps in the AFO strategy include EPA's preparation of draft
guidance for the states on Round I CAFO NPDES permits and a draft model permit,
scheduled for release for public review in May 1999, with finalization in
August 1999. In addition, USDA will be reviewing the NRCS conservation practice
standards for AFOs, with proposed revisions scheduled for release in September
Sec. 319 Funds for Watershed Restoration
Last year, the administration initiated a Unified Watershed Assessment
Framework process, under which the states determined which watersheds within
the state were not meeting clean water and other natural resource goals. These
watersheds were designated as Category I watersheds and the states then were to
identify those Category I watersheds most in need of attention in FY1999-2000.
For these priority watersheds, the states are required to develop Watershed
Restoration Action Strategies. For more details on this Unified Watershed
Assessment process, see the EPA guidance on the web at
In the FY1999 appropriations bill for the EPA, Congress appropriated
$200 million for states to implement nonpoint source management programs under
Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, an increase of $100 million over previous
Section 319 funding. This incremental $100 million for Section 319 funding is
targeted for use by the States in implementing the Watershed Restoration
Action Strategies. EPA has completed allocation of these incremental Section
319 funds to the states and has developed a new guidance for the states on how
to prioritize the spending of the funds. The guidance entitled "Funding
the Development and Implementation of Watershed Restoration Action Strategies
under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act" is posted on the web at
This guidance includes a list of the funds allocated to each state.
can look at your state's Unified Watershed Assessment priority list on the Web
by entering the site http://www.epa.gov/surf.
This site contains a box entitled "Locate Your Watershed". By
clicking on this box, you can access a page that includes a provision for "Search
by Maps". Click on this selection to get a map of the United States and
then click on your home state. This will take you to the Surf Your Watershed
homepage (Get it? Surf your WATERshed? Goodness. Why on earth they let web
designers write their own comedy material is beyond me.) for you state.
on the Unified Watershed Assessments to get to your state government's link for
the Assessment. If you find that you have an interest in the restoration
strategy for a particular Category I priority watershed, contact the state
agency listed on the state Assessments page to find out opportunities available
for public participation in the Watershed Restoration Action Strategy for the
watershed of interest to you.
Corps Updates Wetland Regulations
On March 9, 1999, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) issued a final
rule for an administrative appeals process for Clean Water Act Section 404
wetlands permits. Federal Register, Volume 64, pp. 11707-11721 (March 9,
1999). The final rule provides for an administrative appeals process in which a
person who is denied a permit or who declines to accept an individual permit
offered by the ACE must seek review at one level higher within the ACE before
exercising the right to judicial review of the action in the courts.
final rule does not allow for administrative review of whether or not the land
at issue is a wetland as defined by law. The ACE intends to establish an
appeals process for wetland determinations if Congress appropriates funds
requested in the administrations FY00 budget. In addition, third parties
who may wish to challenge the issuance of a Section 404 permit cannot initiate
this administrative appeals process, although third parties have limited rights
to submit information under the process. The rule becomes effective on
August 6, 1999 and will apply to permit denials and declined individual permits
where the denial or proffered individual permit occurs after March 9, 1999.
The ACE has also issued its Section 404 Regulatory Guidance Letters
currently in effect. Federal Register, Volume 64, pp. 13783-13788 (March 22,
1999). These Letters track written guidance issued to ACE field agencies that
address evolving policy; judicial decisions; and changes to the ACE regulations
or another agencys regulations which affect the Section 404 permit
program. For example, Regulatory Guidance Letter No. 96-02 provides guidance
on whether a deep-ripping activity in a wetland falls within the
normal farming, forestry or ranching exemption from Section 404 permit
Finally, the ACE is initiating a Programmatic
Environmental Impact Statement for the entire Section 404 Nationwide Permit
Program to review and evaluate whether the Program as a whole authorizes only
those activities with minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental
impacts. The first step is a public scoping process focusing on identifying
programmatic and procedural alternatives, methods of collecting and analyzing
Nationwide Permit Program data, and other substantial environmental issues to
be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement.
The ACE will be
holding public meetings in Sacramento, Fort Worth and Washington in May and is
accepting written comments on the scoping process until June 4, 1999. See
Federal Register, Volume 64, p. 13782 (March 22, 1999) for details on the
public meetings. Written comments should be submitted to Mr. Robert Brumbaugh,
CEWRC-IWR-P, Casey Building, 7701 Telegraph Road, Alexandria VA 22315-3868.
For further information, contact Mr. Brumbaugh at (703) 428-6370.
The February 9-11 meeting of the National Organic Standards Board produced
substantial progress on a number of policy issues that were among the most
controversial elements of the first Proposed Rule. In addition to the
previously announced prohibition on the use of genetically modified organisms,
irradiation, and biosolids, Keith Jones of the National Organic Program
outlined significant improvements in standards for livestock, synthetic
materials, inert ingredients in pesticide formulations, and ecolabeling.
provisions include: a 100% organic feed requirement, no antibiotic use on
livestock, access to the outdoors for all animals and pasture for all ruminants
with very limited exceptions, NOSB authorization for all approved synthetic
materials, a prohibition on all List 2 EPA inerts and all List 3 inerts unless
specifically approved by the NOSB, and no restrictions on label claims other
than the organic claim.
The changes reflect the broad consensus seen
in the more than 275,000 comments that criticized the first Proposed Rule and
are much closer to existing state and private certification standards. Keith
stated that his office is dotting the is and crossing the ts
on the next draft which should, after internal clearance, appear in the
Federal Register by summer. Keith announced that the Department will seek a
one-time authorization to cover the cost of the first round of certifier
accreditation. If Congress goes along, this should be very helpful for
enabling smaller, private certifiers to work in the national program.
NOSB also brokered a tentative compromise between the USDA and the private
certifier community on provisions for termination of certification. The
arrangement would allow private certifiers, after finding a serious violation
of standards and an internal appeal process, to revoke the letter of
certification through which it authorized the offending operation to use its
seal on a particular product. The operation can elect to appeal the certifiers
decision to the Secretary, who retains final authority to terminate
certification. A workable resolution to this issue will be a closely watched
detail in the next Proposed Rule. Keith also announced that he is negotiating a
contract with the Organic Materials Review Institute to conduct the necessary
technical reviews on materials being considered for the National List.
Some Relief on Shared Appreciation Agreements
On March 18, USDA announced several changes to ease burdens on farmers who
had debt forgiven under farm loan programs and now owe or soon will owe the
government money under the terms of Shared Appreciation Agreements (SAA).
SAAs, part of the 1987 credit act, require repayment of part of the forgiven
debt if, after 10 years, the value of the farm property pledged as security
Under the new changes, farmers with SAAs due in 1999
who can demonstrate inability to pay can receive up to a 3 year deferral, with
interest accruing during the deferral period. About 2,600 farmers are affected.
also announced plans to issue a proposed rule to reduce future SAAs from 10
years to 5 years and to allow farmers to deduct the value of capital
improvements made during the SAA term for existing and future SAAs. The hope is
this rule would be finalized in time to help the set of farmers who opt to
defer SAAs this year. The USDA announcement did not indicate the proposed rule
would also deal with the issue of appraising the farms at ag rather than
development value, but we hope to make sure this issue is also accounted for in
the new rule.
FDA Proposed Revision of Irradiated Food Labeling
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advanced notice of
proposed rulemaking seeking public comment on its regulations relating to the
labeling of foods treated with ionizing radiation. The FDA has authorized the
use of irradiation on most foods, including fruits and vegetables. The FDA
most recently approved the use of irradiation to reduce microbial pathogens on
meat and poultry.
With regard to labeling, the FDA currently does
not require labeling of foods with intermixed irradiated components, where the
final food product is not completely irradiated. For unmixed foods, i.e. in
which all ingredients or components have been irradiated, the FDA regulations
currently require that the food be labeled with a radura logo, the
international symbol that indicates radiation treatment (which barely beat out
the very clever Hiram the Glowbug logo), and an irradiation
disclosure statement that need be no more prominent than the ingredients list
for the product.
In its advanced notice, the FDA indicates that it is considering: (1)
revising the wording of the current irradiation disclosure statement to a use
terms such as cold pasteurization, electronic pasteurization,
or Strangelovin which would not include the word irradiation;
and (2) allowing any labeling requirements for irradiated foods to expire in
the future. The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking can be found in the
Federal Register, Volume 64, pp. 7834-7837 (Feb. 17, 1999) or on the Web at
The FDA is accepting written comments and supporting material on the
proposal until May 18, 1999. Comments should refer to FDA Docket No. 98N-1038
and should be submitted to Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), FDA, 5630
Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061. Rockville MD 29852. Organizations should submit two
copies and individuals need submit only one copy. Comments may also be
submitted by e-mail to FDADockets@oc.fda.gov
with the Docket Number No.98N-1038 in the subject line
EPA Falling Behind on Organophosphates
The EPA has fallen behind in making the key decisions needed for FQPA
implementation. The Agency postponed a Tolerance Reassessment Advisory
Committee meeting scheduled for February, and has yet to release a refined risk
assessment for any organophosphate (OP) compound.
The Agency is
continuing to accept comments on unrefined assessments for many OPs. The
refined risk assessments are needed to complete the risk management process,
through which the Agency will determine which products and label uses will be
eliminated. The Agency also announced that while it expects to have the first
third of all food tolerances reviewed by August 1999 (as required by FQPA),
tolerances for the high-risk organophosphates will not be among them.
EPAs inability to reach a decision on the OPs is undermining the FQPA,
which was specifically designed to expedite review of the highest risk
products. The apparent decision to shift the Agencys resources to low
risk products and the registration of newer reduced risk alternatives has left
the fate of many widely used OPs unresolved.
CRP Sign-Up Totals
In announcing the results of the 18th Sign up for the Conservation Reserve
Program (CRP), Secretary Glickman pronounced himself Shocked shocked!
to find that we missed some of North Dakota that last go-round. They
made a stab at rectifying this grievous error in this sign-up, which will bring
nearly 5 million additional acres into the program, out of 7.1 million offered
in this round. This will result in a total enrollment in the program of 31.3
Once again, Plains states led the new enrollment, with
continued high sign ups in Montana, the Dakotas, and Kansas. The largest
acreages in this sign-up were:
- Montana 638,178 acres
- North Dakota 603,235
- Texas 554,800
- Kansas 403,030
- Minnesota 380,547
- Colorado 290,129
- South Dakota 282,127
- Iowa 229,073
- Washington 193,576
- Nebraska 186,364
As in all of the most recent sign-ups, USDA ranked bids on the basis of an
Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) and a cost factor. For the 18th Sign-up,
CRP offers with an EBI of 245 or greater are considered acceptable for
enrollment, and USDA claims a higher EBI average for this round than for any
After much delay, the land grant university stakeholder and peer review
draft guidelines and plans of work will be published in the federal register
for public comment around March 23rd. Last year, in the federal research bill,
Congress mandated that in order to receive formula funding, state agricultural
colleges (land grants) will be required to follow guidelines and document how
they involve citizen stakeholders in agricultural research decision-making.
The proposed rule will be open to public comment possibly for as little as 30
days, hence our pre-publication alert.
MSAWGs research committee
will lead an effort to respond to these guidelines and ensure representation of
a diverse array of citizens, meaningful input processes, and strong
accountability mechanisms. Look for action alerts soon with information
including the federal register announcement, sample comment letters, and whom
to contact for more information.
Beginning Farmer Advisory Committee
Seven long years after the law passed establishing the beginning farmer
advisory committee, Secretary Glickman announced the appointment of the
18-member group on February 22nd. Included on the panels membership are
our own Ferd Hoefner (Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) plus Kathy Ruhf from
the New England Small Farm Institute, Calvin King, Sr. from Arkansas Land and
Farm Development Corporation, and Greg Smitman from the Intertribal Ag Council.
Also represented are the National Council of State Agriculture
Finance Programs, the Extension Service, the Farm Credit System, and the
American Bankers Association. The group expects its first meeting to occur in
late spring or summer. It is charged with developing greater federal-state
beginning farmer partnerships using existing beginning farmer credit programs,
and to recommend other methods for creating new farming and ranching
Community Food Security RFP Expected
At the end of March, USDA will issue a Request For Proposals for the 1999
Community Food Projects grant program. Applicants will have either 60 or 90
days to submit completed proposals. This is a competitive grants program
administered by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension
Services. The grant program will match an amount up to $250,000 for up to 3
years for a private, non-profit entity project that links farms, food
processing facilities and food markets with local low-income rural or urban
Background information on the Community Food Project Grant
Program is available on the web at
In addition, Martha Noble plans to attend an information session on the
Program at Penn State University on April 23, 1999. If you have any questions
you wish addressed at this session or would like a briefing after the session,
contact Martha Noble at the SAC office or via e-mail at
New and Notable
While its a tad late to attend, its worth noting that the USDA
will co-host a marketing outreach workshop for limited resource farmers March
24-26 at the Agricenter International in Memphis, Tenn. The workshop is a joint
effort with Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, La. One
hundred fifty-four limited resource farmers from across the south will attend
the event on USDA scholarships, and another 600 are expected to participate.
As announced, the workshops will focus on steps farmers can take to devise
effective marketing plans, as well as information on livestock quality.
of note is the release of the one-year report on the results of the Clean Water
Action Plan. To read the EPAs self- congratulatory assessment of year one
accomplishments under the CWAP (dont any of these jokers ever check their
acronyms? Or at least listen to Elmer Fud?), you can check the web at
Previous editions of Inside the Beltway
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