NOFA’s 2023 Farm Bill Campaign

The 7 Northeast Organic Farming Association chapters have come together to identify our region’s greatest farming and food system needs and policies that can address them. As the farm bill process unfolds, we will continue to collaborate and offer opportunities for you to inform and join in on our advocacy campaign.


Principles

These principles and priorities came together with input gathered during spring and summer 2022 farm bill listening sessions hosted by NOFA chapters and through careful evaluation of campaigns being developed by organizations that share our values and priorities.

We want a farm bill that…

Organic practices improve soil health, promote biodiversity above and below ground, and require biological, mechanical, and cultural means of pest and disease control like cover crops and crop rotation. By actively working with natural systems and avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides, organic and agroecological systems eliminate some of the most potent GHG emissions while sequestering carbon and protecting wildlife and their habitats. The Farm Bill must protect the integrity of the National Organic Program and invest a substantial proportion of its funding to support expansion of organic and agroecological systems to 30% of farmland by 2030.

Farming is essential work that, at its best, provides food for our communities while nourishing and protecting ecosystems and contributing to the creation of community wealth. At present, however, much of federal policy works to extract wealth, labor, and knowledge from those working the land, to the detriment of farmers, workers, eaters, and the environment. We need a Farm Bill that reestablishes parity prices that are in balance with the rest of the economy through equitable and  just supply management. It is time to end  “cheap food” funded by exploiting farmworkers and the land. The Farm Bill must ensure living wages, and dignified livelihoods for every worker throughout the food supply chain and end the exclusion of farmworkers from labor protections.

To enable rural prosperity and increase local food system resilience, the farm bill should expand organic and regional food processing, distribution, and marketing infrastructure; invest in community leadership and cooperative ownership models; expand risk management opportunities and market access for small and medium-scale and diversified farms and ranches; and prioritize support for Black, Indigenous and People of Color, and new and beginning farmers and ranchers in all programming. For communities to thrive and build more just and vital regional food systems, more investment and support is also needed for affordable and accessible broadband, healthcare, housing, and renewable energy.   

The farm bill must also reverse the devastation to local economies caused by the hyper-consolidation of food and agribusiness industries by enforcing existing antitrust laws, limiting mergers, guaranteeing fair contracts, and increasing corporate accountability to frontline communities. 

USDA has a demonstrated history of discriminating against farmers of color in lending and credit practices and program implementation. Taken in the context of a broader history of land theft, forced labor and other forms of disenfranchisement, USDA must actively work to support access to land, credit, and other resources for self-determination for farmers of color and other marginalized communities. In doing so, they must meaningfully engage with and be held accountable to  BIPOC farmers and other stakeholders to develop programs and policies that support their needs on the ground. Congress should ensure equitable access to agricultural land stewardship through conservation programs.

It is time to shift the US food system to localized food sovereignty with access to farmland and farming resources for BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, the young, under-resourced and farmers from other marginalized populations. The concept of food sovereignty recognizes access to healthy, nutrient-dense food as a human right and maintains that people should have the ability to be active participants and stakeholders in the food they grow, consume and sell. Just as biodiversity is essential to soil health, social diversity is essential to a healthy and thriving food system. As a matter of justice and public health, people from marginalized populations must be afforded equitable access to nutrient-dense food free of toxic pesticides, such as food grown by organic farms.  Further, in order to confront the worsening effects of the climate crisis, we must empower locally-controlled and adaptive efforts for food solutions.  Shifting the US food system to localized food sovereignty with access to farmland and farming resources for Indigenous, Black, and farmers of color will reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from agriculture. To this end, Congress has the opportunity to use the Farm Bill to elevate the interests of all food eaters and the small-scale local producers that resilient communities depend upon, by making deeper investments in urban agriculture and cooperative land ownership. Also as a matter of climate resiliency, congress must reinvest in public plant and animal breeding programs to provide farmers with regionally adapted seeds and breeds.

The use of toxic xenobiotic materials interrupts the natural systems of ecosystems with living soils that nourish plants that nourish animals, including humans.  It is time to end public policies that subsidize pollution and to require the manufacturers of pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms to pay to clean up the contamination from which they profit. The US must adopt the precautionary principle in introducing new materials and products and carefully weigh the climate impact of fossil fuels and all derivatives, especially synthetic fertilizers. These policies are necessary to protect biodiversity, the health of farmworkers and farmers, wildlife, and all who eat farm products. A just transition must be provided for farmers who have been pressured onto the chemical-GMO-CAFO treadmill with incentives to transition their farms to ecological systems with localized markets.

This page will be updated as we identify and evaluate new policies. We welcome your thoughts and input: policy@nofany.org.


Marker Bills

Because the farm bill is such a huge piece of legislation with many, many programs and policies included, marker bills are used to signal specific policy proposals for parts of the larger farm bill but are typically not passed as stand-alone bills. Introducing marker bills allows members of Congress and advocates to build support for policy asks that may then be included in the larger farm bill package.

This is a list of introduced marker bills that align with our principles and policy priorities. 

Establishes goal for agriculture to reach net zero by 2040, while investing in agricultural research, soil health, transition to pasture-based livestock, ensuring farmland preservation and viability, on-farm renewable energy, and reducing food waste.

Show your support:  Tell Congress to help farmers and ranchers combat the climate crisis!

Expands funding for and scope of USDA Farm to School Grant Program, while prioritizing grant proposals that engage beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and serve high-need schools

Places a moratorium on certain acquisitions between large agricultural and retail-related businesses and establishes a commission to study and make recommendations to address concentration in the U.S. food and agricultural economy.

Sets price floors at fair levels above the cost of production; implements supply management to prevent oversupply; establishes grain reserves to protect eaters, industry, and livestock interests from price spikes during times of shortage; and enacts strong conservation measures that incentivize farmer participation.

Enacts policies to end discrimination within the USDA, protect remaining Black farmers from losing their land, provide land grants to create a new generation of Black farmers and restore the land base that has been lost, and implement systemic reforms to help family farmers across the United States.

The plan would pay dairy farmers a fair wage based on their costs of production – for huge taxpayer savings. It would incentivize family-scale dairy farms over megadairies and ensure a consistent supply of regional milk for processors and consumers.

A comprehensive plan to increase slaughter options for local livestock and poultry producers, assist smaller facilities as they adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and help consumers access locally-raised meat and poultry.

Show your support: Ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor the strengthening local processing act!


Partners and Allies

Our campaign has been influenced and informed by the work of many others including: 


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Dig deeper into the farm bill

Check out this detailed webpage from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.


Share feedback on NOFA’s principles and priorities: email Katie at policy@nofany.org