NSAC Action Alert Plus Weekly News Roundup (5/20/11)

NSAC Action Alert:

Yesterday afternoon, (5/24) the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee adopted a government funding bill that if passed would turn back decades of progress to achieve a more sustainable and just food and farming system. This 2012 bill makes a second round of steep cuts to conservation, extension, research, renewable energy, and rural development programs.   And just like in fiscal year 2011, none of the cuts are directed at crop subsidies, the largest federal agricultural spending item.  The bill takes a total of $2.7 billion (13.4%) out of the food and agriculture budget including:

  • Farm bill conservation funding would be cut by nearly $1 billion.  The bill would even force USDA to break contracts it has already signed with farmers enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program!
  • Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) funding would be cut by $3 million.  The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would be cut by $40 million.
  • Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program would be cut by $6.4 million.  Rural Micro-lending program would be completely eliminated.
  • The Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Biomass Crop Assistance (BCAP) would both be completely eliminated
  • Doing the bidding of multinational meat and poultry conglomerates, the bill forbids USDA from using any funds to write or publish the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule to make livestock and poultry markets fairer and more competitive, a rule Congress in directed USDA to write as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.

If passed this bill will endanger our nation’s supply of clean water, increase the already alarming levels of soil erosion, and sell our farmers out to multinational meat and poultry conglomerates … to name just a few.

ACT NOW – Tell the Senate to Reject this Reckless Bill

Call Your Senators. Tell them to reject the House Agricultural Appropriations Bill and tell them to support full funding for farm bill conservation programs, to reject jobs and growth-killing cuts to research, energy and rural development programs, and to stand up for farmers by protecting the GIPSA rule from meat packer interference.

It’s easy to call: Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code.  Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their DC phone number.  You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121. 

To learn more, go to our blog, House FY 2012 Appropriations Bill Would Slash Conservation, Rural Development and Research Programs.

NSAC Weekly News Roundup – May 20, 2011

CONGRESSIONAL NEWS

USDA NEWS 

  • National Genetics Board Being Re-Established –  “…Its purpose is to formulate recommendations on actions and policies with respect to the federal collection, maintenance, conservation, and utilization of genetic resources.  The Council’s deals with the full range of agriculturally relevant life forms: plants, animals, insects, microbes, forest species, and aquatics.

OTHER NEWS

  • Merrigan Keynotes Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Foods Gathering – “…USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan keynoted Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions conference on May 19.  The event attracted food and agriculture writers from around the nation. The good news, Merrigan explained, is that “there’s more interest now in agriculture than there has been in my entire professional life.”  The bad news, she joked, is that “my timing is a little off,” because she reached the “pinnacle of her career” during a “time period when we are not going to have any new resources,” referring to the current budget-cutting climate in DC.
  • Healthy Farms, Healthy People Summit – A diverse group of over 100 farm, food, and health stakeholders came together in Washington, DC Tuesday and Wednesday for Healthy Farms, Healthy People: A Farm & Food Policy Summit for a Strong America.  The summit was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and convened by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Public Health Institute, California Food & Justice Coalition, Public Health Law & Policy, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and American Farmland Trust. A.G. Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture and co-chair of Solutions From the Land, opened the summit with a discussion about the current state of agriculture and public health, both domestically and abroad.



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