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National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture is working for funding on
the following issues:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
©1997 Committee for
Sustainable Farm Publishing
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