Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beginning Farmer Funding in the 2012 Farm Bill

Our Beginning Farmer Program at CT NOFA is funded by the USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) established in the 2008 Farm Bill.  This program funds local organizations to create community-based support for new farmers.  This program might be now facing cuts in the new farm bill.  We rely on this funding as do many other organizations and many of our nation's future farmers.  You can learn more about the program from their 2011 Progress Report. It’s a great example of how public investments can stimulate the outcomes we want –  more beginning farmers getting started and succeeding. That is something we all know we need more of.
Our Beginning Farmer lunch at the Greenhouse Workshop was funded by our BFRDP Grant!
The U.S. Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill will be introduced by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow in the next few days, and immediately following its introduction it will be marked up and voted on by the Senate Agriculture Committee. Changes to programs and funding levels are being floated — some not so good and some outright bad.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program has no funding past 2012. As Senate Farm Bill proceeds, it is still unclear if any resources will be dedicated to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The only indication we have to go on is what happened in the proposed “Secret Farm Bill” within the failed Super Committee process last fall. In the “Secret Farm Bill” only $10 million a year was provided to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. That would be a 47 percent decrease compared to what was offered for the program this year and represents a massive cut to the program overall. We cannot allow this to happen in the Senate Farm Bill.

U.S. Senators need to hear from organizations and farmers about the need for making real investments in beginning farmer support. Ask your Senator to secure these resources that maintain and grow training and assistance for our next generation of American farmers and ranchers. 

To contact your Senator, use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at: 202-224-3121.

Message:   I want Senator __________ to make the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program a top priority and to ensure it is funded at $25 million a year in the Farm Bill. We need to invest in support for new farmers. Dedicate the funding and continue this new farmer support program as is.  It does not need changes. It does not need tweaks. It needs funding.

When you call, it’s best to try and contact the staff member responsible for agriculture issues if you can.  If they are not available, make sure to leave a message with the receptionist. Let them know what organization you’re with and where you’re from.

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