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National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
Appropriations Priorities

The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture is working for funding on the following issues:
  1. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (Chapter 1) and SARE (Chapter 3) Professional Development Program. The Chapter 1 competitive grants program funds high-quality, farmer-involved research and education on economic, agronomic, and environmental aspects of sustainable ag farming systems. In addition, Chapter 3 funds projects to train extension, NRCS and FSA staff, and other agricultural professionals in sustainable ag concepts, research and practices. Although authorized at $40 million, SARE's actual funding has been grossly inadequate, with a high of $8.1 million. While Chapter 3 has been authorized at $20 million, the program has never exceeded the $3.5 million it received in FY 95. We seek $10.5 million and $4.5 million for Chapters 1 and 3, respectively.

  2. Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA). This national information service answers questions from farmers and others who call its 1-800 telephone number about matters ranging from sustainable ag agronomic methods to small business start-up strategies and everything in between. While ATTRA has received level funding for six years, its caseload has more than tripled in that time. We seek $1.5 million (up from $1.3 million).

  3. Conservation Reserve Program (mandatory, but can be cut back in appropriations bill) Wetlands Reserve Program; Environmental Quality Incentives Program; Farmland Protection Program; Conservation Farm Option; wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. The Conservation Farm Option (CFO), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Farmland Protection Program (FPP), Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) are all mandatory programs, yet have been extremely vulnerable to cuts. We seek:
    • $15 million for CFO
    • $200 million for EQIP
    • $18 million for FPP
    • $20 million for WHIP
    • $164 for WRP.

  4. Fund for Rural America. This new program was funded in the 1996 Farm Bill at $100 million for three years, with great support from the Campaign. It funds a variety of rural initiatives, including at least $33.3 million in research projects, $33.3 million in rural development projects, and $33.3 million to be used at the discretion of the USDA Secretary. We are working to protect the full $100 million from attempts to cut it in order to fund an unrelated project.

  5. Community Food Security Act. This new competitive grants program funds community food projects designed to meet the food needs of low-income people; increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; and promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm and nutrition issues. We support the President's request for full funding at $2.5 million for FY 98.

  6. Direct Farm Ownership (DFO) and Direct Operating Credit Programs (DOL), including beginning farmer and minority farmer loans. These programs offer affordable, direct loans both for buying and operating farms. Both programs are targeted to beginning farmers. Each dollar appropriated for these programs makes $7 to $10 of loans available to farmers. Appropriated levels reflect only the government's cost of running the programs, including the subsidy that allows for lower interest rates, a project default rate for each type of loan and other administrative costs. Despite being cost-effective, these programs took extremely deep cuts last year, with DFO funds permitting only $28.1 million and DOL $469.8 million in loans. The Campaign seeks sufficient funding to provide loan funds for:
    • $85 million in DFO
    • $500 million in DOL
    • $25 million for Government Inventory Land Credit Sales.

  7. Organic Foods Production Act. The National Organic Standards Board and USDA program staff continue to work to develop national organic standards and a certification program. This implementation process has received about $500,000 annually in recent years. We seek level funding, along with a USDA commitment to expedite program implementation including holding at least two NOSB meetings per year.

  8. Farmers Market Nutrition Program. This program offers vouchers or coupons for participants in the low-income Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at local farmers' markets. Because of level funding, several states' pilot programs have been unable to expand statewide, and the many new states seeking to start a program are unable to do so. We support the Administration proposal to increase from $6.75 million to $12 million for FY 98.

  9. Outreach & Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers (Sec. 2501). This program addresses the needs of small and minority farmers in gaining access to USDA's credit, commodity, conservation and other programs. It targets information on farm management, production and marketing assistance to minority producers, often through community-based organizations with actual experience working with minority producers and knowledge of their assistance needs. We seek an increase to $10 million for FY 98.

  10. Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. This matching funds competitive grants program funds marketing studies on innovative marketing methods. Areas of emphasis include new crops, alternative markets and marketing systems, new handling, processing and distribution techniques, on-farm and local value-added activities, and market assistance to organic and specialty food industries. Projects are funded through state departments of agriculture or other state agencies. We seek level funding at $1.2 million.

  11. Rural Business Enterprise Grants. This program provides funds to help develop small and emerging private businesses in rural areas. RBEG is one of the few sources of grants (rather than loans) that can be used to support ag processing and marketing for family farmers. We support the Administration request for $40 million for FY 98.

  12. Rural Cooperative Development Grants. This program offers technical assistance to establish rural cooperatives of all kinds, including programs pertaining to sustainable ag, organic production and marketing/value-added initiatives. The technical assistance is available through regional cooperative development centers. The program emphasizes projects for long-term cooperative development. We seen an increase of funding at $5 million, up from $1.7 million.
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