NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform: Investing in Healthy Communities

NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform: Investing in Healthy Communities

December 9, 2022

Editor’s Observe: That is the second put up in our collection protecting key pillars of NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform, the primary put up is right here. You possibly can learn the platform and take motion to endorse it right here.

The Farm Bill performs an essential function in supporting the well being and prosperity of our rural and concrete communities. The 2023 Farm Bill can put money into wholesome rural and concrete communities by strengthening the resilience of native and regional provide chains, growing market alternatives for small and mid-sized farms and processors, enhancing job progress and native financial improvement by way of workforce improvement and coaching, and guaranteeing probably the most weak have ample entry to nutritious, culturally-relevant, locally-produced meals.

Strengthen resilient native and regional meals techniques

The rising demand for domestically and regionally produced meals has fueled a necessity for elevated manufacturing, in addition to a necessity for applications and insurance policies that may assist the enlargement of these markets. The 2018 Farm Bill made important investments – in bodily infrastructure in addition to in coaching and peer-to-peer skilled networks – in growing these burgeoning native and regional provide chains by way of the Native Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), an umbrella program that consists of the Farmers Market and Native Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), the Worth-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program, and the Regional Food Programs Partnership (RFSP) Program. These investments supplied important return when the pandemic and different current provide chain disruptions upended our meals system. LAMP helped be sure that infrastructure and relationships had been in place to allow native and regional meals distribution networks to fill essential provide chain gaps and supply for probably the most weak in our communities. 

A current dialog with farmer Brent Biles from Rolling Department Farm in Naylor, Georgia reiterated this level: “It’s troublesome to compete with growers on 5-7,000 acres. We’ve tried to make use of a number of applications earlier than we obtained a value-added producer grant… Regardless of delays in receiving [COVID] reduction funding, we continued to develop meals for whoever was hungry. VAPG is the one funding instrument that saved our shelled pecan operation open.”  

Current native and regional meals techniques responded properly to the disaster, however too many producers like Brent and Rolling Department Farm are nonetheless not noted of the system. Appropriately sized processing, aggregation, and distribution infrastructure continues to be insufficient. Technical help for producers and entrepreneurs on a variety of points from meals security to enterprise planning continues to make it troublesome for a lot of farmers and producers to replace their companies to fulfill present wants. Federal applications like LAMP can assist farmers, ranchers, and fishers who need to make the most of these new financial alternatives by connecting them with aggregators, processors, distributors, retailers, and institutional consumers and shoppers in native and regional marketplaces. The 2023 Farm Bill can guarantee this flagship program continues to serve native communities, farmers, and economies by streamlining program administration and increasing program accessibility.

NSAC’s Platform requires a Farm Bill that can:

  • Present farmers with assets that permit them to compete efficiently in new markets by way of coaching, technical help for monetary planning and advertising and marketing, and meals security and natural price share help;
  • Develop new and strengthen current bodily infrastructure that can permit producers to combination, course of, and distribute merchandise to native and regional markets;
  • Guarantee equitable entry to USDA funds by guaranteeing USDA grant funds movement equitably to all areas of the nation, demonstrated by way of rigorous monitoring and analysis with a racial justice lens; 
  • Prioritize entry to current and new assets for traditionally underserved and BIPOC producers and communities, and work immediately with these communities to beat boundaries to entry, together with by way of relationship constructing and information assortment and evaluation; and
  • Increase funding in meals security outreach, schooling, coaching, and technical help that immediately assists small and mid-sized farms, starting and socially deprived farmers, small processors, and small-scale wholesalers.

Rebuild native and regional meat processing capability

Because the meals system begins to get well from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a important want for monetary investments to handle the backlog at small-scale slaughter and processing services utilized by hundreds of farmers and ranchers throughout the nation. The backlog in slaughter and processing entry will not be a brand new concern and was solely exacerbated by the pandemic. The dearth of scale acceptable processing infrastructure in some areas of the nation has been a major subject for small livestock and poultry producers for the final a number of many years. 

Congress and the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) should proceed to take steps in the direction of constructing extra resilient meat and poultry infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic displayed this sector’s infrastructure weaknesses. Current shutdowns, which have additionally highlighted the impression of consolidation, triggered livestock destined for slaughter at giant vegetation to be diverted to smaller services that serve native and regional markets. This strained the flexibility of small vegetation to proceed to course of small, pasture raised, and grassfed livestock and poultry. 

Small vegetation are essential infrastructure for meals system resilience. Now’s an opportune time for policymakers to handle a long-standing subject for hundreds of small livestock and poultry producers as a result of the pandemic has intensified the necessity for a extra resilient provide chain, and Congress and USDA have dedicated funds to assist this effort. The 2023 Farm Bill gives the chance to recommit assist for the impartial meat processing sector, deal with workforce shortages, and improve alternatives for this sector to tell coverage and programmatic choices with and throughout companies.

To construct native and regional meat processing infrastructure, capability, and workforce improvement, NSAC’s Platform requires a Farm Bill invoice that:

  • Directs USDA to maintain and strengthen current loans and grants for area of interest meat processing with legislative authorization and everlasting funding;
  • Reforms direct and intermediate lending applications to extend their effectiveness; 
  • Grows participation within the Cooperative Interstate Cargo program by way of expanded outreach and monetary help;
  • Sustains funding for the Meat and Poultry Workforce Growth Applications, with a give attention to completely different coaching modes, kinds, and places; 
  • Directs USDA to check finest practices throughout and impacts of the Meat and Poultry workforce improvement program and research coaching wants for inspectors of small and really small vegetation; and
  • Directs USDA to kind a Small Meat and Poultry Processing Advisory Group to advise and supply suggestions on related applications to the Food Security Inspection Service, Rural Growth, and Agricultural Advertising Service. 

Increase and improve USDA procurement applications and practices

The farm invoice has traditionally included applications to supply domestically produced meals to low-income Individuals. During the last decade, stronger market connections have developed between lower-income consumers, authorities purchasers, and native and regional meals producers. COVID-19 super-charged these relationships in lots of states as initiatives arose to handle the elevated meals insecurity households confronted in mild of pandemic-related provide chain shocks, college closures, and job losses. 

Food hubs and native distributors acted shortly to pivot their distribution from eating places and establishments to companies offering emergency meals to households. The preliminary rounds of the Farmers to Households Food Field program in 2020 included contracts with many native and regional meals hubs to buy and distribute extra wholesome, contemporary, and culturally acceptable meals than ever earlier than. The USDA Agricultural Advertising Service’s Native Food Buy Help Program and Native Food for Faculties cooperative agreements have continued this essential assist for native and regional meals distribution to handle starvation and diet wants. The 2023 Farm Bill is a chance to take the laborious classes discovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and different provide chain disruptions to make long-term investments that construct lasting advantages for our most weak communities and producers. 

Constructing on the optimistic parts of the primary two rounds of the Farmers to Households Food Field Program and the present AMS Native Food Buying Help Program, the 2023 Farm Bill ought to:

  • Create a everlasting, values-based, contemporary produce procurement partnership at USDA that empowers farmers, distributors, tribal entities, meals hubs, and different community-based entities to supply emergency meals distribution applications;
  • Set up values-based analysis metrics for this system that prioritize contracts with organizations led by or which have a historical past serving socially deprived teams, and that supply from native sources and from growers which can be socially deprived, starting and small-to-mid sized farms; and
  • Guarantee regional distribution of awards that attain areas with excessive proportions of our most weak communities, or these dwelling in areas with the very best charges of poverty. 

Guarantee entry to locally-produced, nutritious, culturally-relevant meals

First piloted within the Nineteen Sixties, The Farm Bill’s meals stamp program was basically completely different from surplus commodity donation applications as a result of it supplied “money” advantages to eligible households to buy meals of their very own selecting by way of quite a lot of meals retailers. Ultimately renamed to the Supplemental Diet Help Program (SNAP) in 2008, this system has developed to emphasise sound diet and caloric high quality, in addition to amount.

Farm Bill diet applications and insurance policies have expanded since 2008 to incorporate quite a lot of applications that meet households’ essential dietary wants and supply financial alternatives for farmers and native markets, together with:  

To make sure ongoing program accessibility and most impression for households, NSAC’s platform requires a farm invoice that can:

  • Increase the definitions of allowable redemption fashions for applications concentrating on contemporary fruit and vegetable consumption amongst low-income households and SNAP contributors to take away boundaries and improve participation. 
  • Simplify utility and reporting necessities, notably for smaller award applications supposed for one time infusions, such because the Neighborhood Food Initiatives program. 
  • Re-evaluate and scale back match necessities throughout all applications.

NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform accommodates extra particulars on every of the coverage proposals. We invite you to learn NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform and take motion to endorse it right here.

Starting and Minority Farmers, Carousel, Farm Bill, Native & Regional Food Programs, Diet & Food Entry, Rural Growth