Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Urgent Farm Bill Action Alert! Call your Representatives today!!

After months of quiet on the 2013 Farm Bill front, things have changed -- fast.  We’ve seen the House Agriculture Committee’s draft bill – and we’ve got a problem.

The farm bill plays a huge role in fostering economic opportunities for farmers – and for rural communities across the country.  But they left out some critical pieces that directly help farmers and would-be entrepreneurs get access to the financing they need for their businesses.  And, to make matters worse, they’re trying to gut basic protections for independent family livestock producers at the request of a few large corporate interests.

Today is our last chance to reach the House with a loud and clear message –
will you call right now?

California has a number of members on the House Agriculture Committee - and we’re counting on their support.  The committee will vote on amendments to the bill tomorrow, so they need to hear from you today!

Call your Representative to ask for support on three amendments:  Gibson #46, McIntyre #40, and Costa #69.  California’s Rep. Costa’s amendment #69 restores funding for a program that helps to offset the annual cost of certification for organic farmers.  Rep. Gibson’s amendment #46 ensures that all farmers are able to access loans, including farmers in regions with high land prices.  Rep. McIntyre’s amendment #40 restores funding for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, a successful program that provides low-interest loans to small rural businesses. 

California House Agriculture Committee Members

(When calling Rep. Costa, thank him for his work to support organic certification cost share for farmers and urge his support for amendments by Gibson (#46) and McIntyre (#40)).

(202) 225-3076
(202) 225-4540
(202) 225-3341
(202) 225-1880
Negrete McLeod
(202) 225-6161
(202) 225-8045

The message is simple, and it will take just a few minutes -- call the number above and ask to leave the following message for your Representative’s agriculture legislative assistant:

“Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent and a voter (and tell ‘em if you’re a farmer!).  I would like to leave a message for Representative ___’s agriculture staffer.  Can you take a message for me, please?  The message is:  I urge the Representative to support three key amendments in tomorrow’s markup session:  Gibson #46, McIntyre #40, and Costa #69.  These amendments enable farmers to grow local economies by helping them tackle one of their biggest challenges - access to funding to start and grow their businesses.  They will provide cost-share support for farmers seeking organic certification, provide greater access to loans for farmers across the country, and provide low-interest capital for entrepreneurs - including farmers - starting small businesses that rebuild rural communities.  I also urge the Representative to stand up for family farmers and ensure fair practices in the livestock market by opposing Conaway #5.  Thank you.”

We can’t emphasize it enough - the next 48 hours will have an impact on food and farms for years to come.  And we won’t get a better farm bill - and a better future for our nation’s food, farmers, and communities - without your help.  Make that quick call right now - and help us spread the word!

Thanks for all you do!

P.S.  Wondering what happens next? Check out our take action page!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Action Alert: Tell your legislator to support beginning farmers!

The farmers and ranchers across the country who feed us are getting older - the average American farmer is 57! Now is the time to invest in the next generation of folks who want to raise our food and steward the land. They’re going to be job creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators – as long as we help them get the tools they need to succeed.
Here on Capitol Hill, your representatives have a chance to help - by supporting the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013, a bill introduced in Congress this week, that invests in the future of American agriculture. The bill will:
• Enable access to land, credit, and crop insurance for new producers.
• Help new producers learn to become good land stewards.
• Provide training, mentoring, and research that beginning farmers and ranchers need to be successful.
• Connect military veterans with job opportunities in agriculture.
Congress had the chance to include these critical needs in the 2012 Farm Bill, but their inability to pass that bill last year meant that the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act was left behind. Your legislators will begin working on the 2013 Farm Bill soon – so now is the time to make sure support for beginning farmers is not forgotten!
Can you make a call today and ask your legislators to co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013? Legislative co-sponsors are vital for the success of this bill – they can help move the bill through Congress and ensure pieces of it are included in the next farm bill.
Before you make a call, [check here]! If you see your legislator on this list of co-sponsors, make your call a THANK YOU call!

Tell your legislators: 
I am a constituent and a voter. (tell ‘em if you’re a farmer!) Supporting beginning farmers and ranchers is a critical investment in the future of American agriculture. Please co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013 today!
Legislator Contact HERE
Thanks for speaking out! Your voice will make a difference! Want more information on the bill? Check it out here.

-- The NSAC Grassroots Team

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Food Safety for Small-scale Farmers

A webinar to help farmers selling or desiring to sell produce to wholesale markets, restaurants, schools or grocery stores requesting documented food safety programs by the farm operations they buy produce from.
Date: Tuesday – May 7, 2013
Time: 9:00 am Pacific/10:00 am Mountain/11:00 am Central/12:00 Noon Pacific
Presenter: Paul Vossen, University of California Cooperative Extension
Presentation Topics:
·      Various organisms and their potential for on-farm produce contamination
·      Legal requirements for assuring food safety on the farm
·      Procedures for developing a "Self Certification" document
·      What it will take to pass a USDA Good Agricultural Practices audit
·      Resources available.
How to Join?  Please join the live webinar by clicking on: http://msuextensionconnect.org/aginuncertaintimes
Webinar Sponsors: The Webinar is sponsored by the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach, the Ag in Uncertain Times Team, and the University of California Small Farm Program’s Food Safety Education Project.
Test Your Connectivity: We strongly encourage you to test your computer internet connectivity prior to the scheduled meeting time. Follow the link to test your computer at: http://msuextensionconnect.org/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm
For More Information: About the webinar please contact Ramiro Lobo at 858.243.4608. For more food safety related information please visit the University of California Small Farm Program website at http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/food_safety/