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National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
Rural Development and Ag Marketing Committee Priorities

See the '97 Annual Meeting Overview for details about how NCSA reached consensus on these and other priorities.
  1. Agriculture Bargaining Act: This amendment to the Agricultural Fair Practices Act of 1967 requires that the Secretary of Agriculture establish a system for accrediting voluntary-membership Producer Associations upon petition by the growers of a commodity who seek to bargain with a handler under the provisions of the proposed law. A second provision of the amendment makes good faith bargaining a mutual obligation of both parties. Although the parties are not required to reach agreement under the Act, the Secretary of Agriculture may prescribe mediation between the parties under certain circumstances. A final provision authorizes enforcement procedures to make the legislation meaningful. Support of this amendment would provide a self-help tool for improving farm income without excessive over burdensome government involvement.

  2. Rule on Organic Food Production Act: Accelerate implementation of the National Organic Program. Push USDA to devote sufficient resources to ensure rapid accreditation of certifying agents enforcing the National Organic Standards.

  3. Captive Supplies -- Packers and Stockyards Act: Press USDA to use its authority under the Packers and Stockyards Act to regulate the way packers acquire cattle for slaughter. Support regulations which will change the unfair monopolistic practices of packers.

  4. Labeling: The Campaign will engage in consumer education on labeling issues as they pertain to national policies. Issues involved under labeling are:

    • Bio-engineered food products.
    • Country of Origin labeling.
    • Organic/Sustainable labeling.
    • Family Farm labeling.

  5. Follow-up to World Food Summit: The Campaign will facilitate collaboration between member groups who are participating in the congressional debate concerning NAFTA. We will oppose the fast track approval of proposed additions to the NAFTA. Members will participate in the meeting scheduled to take place in Washington in June on the impacts of NAFTA.

  6. Safety Net Bill: The 1996 Farm Bill eliminated many of the mechanisms that had helped to ensure that farmers received a minimum price for their commodities. "Freedom to Farm" payments were used as a rationalization for dismantling the commodity loan rate program and eliminating the farmer owned reserve. In January the "Restore the Farm Bill Safety Net" bill was introduced. It removes the current cap on the commodity loan rate -- enabling it to rise to a level based on an average based on the previous five years' average market price, dropping the high and low year. The proposed legislation extend the terms of the loan an additional six months beyond the current nine month loan, giving farmers the opportunity to hold their grain beyond harvest time when the market is most flooded and prices are at their lowest level.

  7. Fund For Rural America: The Campaign will work to ensure complete funding for the Fund for Rural America and make sure that the intent of the program is met in implementation. We will develop and present recommendations to USDA for year two of implementation. The Campaign will also work to make sure that the evaluation panels for the grants are staffed with people knowledgeable in sustainable agriculture. We will work for long-term funding after the three-year funding mechanism runs out.

  8. Remove ban on organically labeled meats: Currently, organically grown meats sold across state lines may not be labeled as organic. The Campaign will petition Secretary Glickman remove the ban on organically labeled meats.
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