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National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
Family Farm Opportunity and Risk Management Committee Priorities

See the '97 Annual Meeting Overview for details about how NCSA reached consensus on these and other priorities.
  1. Beginning Farmer Programs: Beginning farmer and rancher programs provide direct and guaranteed credit, preference to purchase of government land, and tax incentives, to enable new farmers access to land, equipment, and operating funds. The Campaign will encourage a comprehensive approach to address the needs of the next generation of family farmers and ranchers by working to enhance the effectiveness, funding and availability of existing programs and to generate interest in additional initiatives in the areas of farm succession, access to markets resulting in increased farmer share of profits, crop and revenue insurance, and beginning farmer research, education, and training needs.

  2. Mediation and Appeals: Funding for the federal match for state mediation programs has been under attack. The national appeals process has in many recent cases failed to act independently, as intended by the 1994 law creating the National Appeals Division. Both programs apply to a wide variety of USDA programs, although credit has been the most prevalent. The Campaign will work for increased funding for the federal match for state mediation programs, and will closely monitor the appeals process, especially the reversal of appeals when farmers win. In addition, we will work to ensure proper implementation of the Civil Rights Action Team recommendations to correct discrimination in the delivery of credit and crop insurance.

  3. Debt Restructuring and Forgiveness: The 1996 Farm Bill includes a provision denying any further direct or guaranteed ownership and emergency loans to any farmer who received a debt write-down, debt write-off, or debt forgiveness through debt restructuring or bankruptcy. There is an exception that provides for limited access and terms for direct operating loans for those restructured with a write-down. This provision affects as many as 50,000 farm families, many of whom are experiencing current disasters. The Administration has promised to develop legislation to remove this unfair policy. The Campaign will work to reform the 1996 provision.

  4. Crop and Revenue Insurance: Currently, access to crop insurance and credit is based on compliance with "conventional farming practices," a standard that lends itself to discrimination against farmers using sustainable practices and organic management techniques. Revenue insurance, which adds limited price protection to the yield protection of crop insurance, is currently only available for five major program commodities, is not subject to conservation requirements, and has no limit on the amount of taxpayer subsidy per farm. The Campaign will work to remove barriers to crop insurance for sustainable producers, develop revenue insurance products for diversified operations, make receipt of insurance subsidies conditioned on compliance with good conservation, limit subsidies and improve coverage to support family-sized operations, and encourage development of risk management education programs based on sustainable agriculture concepts and practices.

  5. Appropriations for Direct Farm Ownership and Operating Credit: Funding for direct farm ownership loans, including loans for beginning and minority farmers, was cut by 69 percent for FY 97. The Campaign helped secure some additional funding through the Fund for Rural America, but even with that money, the cut is still an astounding 56 percent. Direct operating loan funds were also cut by 17 percent. Moreover, the President's budget request for FY 98 cuts these programs still further. The Campaign will work to restore funds to the direct credit programs for all eligible borrowers, continue funding from the Fund for Rural America, and retain the provisions targeting a portion of the funds to beginning and minority farmers.
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