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Friday, May 18, 2018

PA Farmers Union Members Travel to Washington, D.C. to Discuss 2018 Farm Bill with Lawmakers

Farmers Union is Urging Congress to Significantly Improve 2018 Farm Bill Draft

Katie Furman photo

WASHINGTON – Seven members of Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU) traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to urge Congress to protect Farm Bill programs that support robust conservation efforts and important markets for family farmers.

The U.S. House of Representatives is readying to vote on its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, and the U.S. Senate is currently writing its version. PFU members joined Farmers Union members from across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions for a legislative fly-in to ensure the bill will work for family farmers in their communities.

“PFU is very concerned with the direction the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill is headed, especially with how it will impact family farmers, food system sustainability, and new markets that vital to our communities and economies,” said PFU President Heidi Secord. “We traveled to Washington this week to make sure our members of Congress hear directly from us about the programs that are important to Pennsylvania’s family farmers and ranchers, and we’re hopeful they’ll advocate these positions when the Farm Bill comes before them.”

Secord said that PFU members are particularly concerned with proposed cuts to programs that help family farmers run economically and environmentally sustainable operations.

The House version of the Farm Bill would cut $5 billion from working lands conservation programs, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and it would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

“Working lands programs like CSP and EQIP help farmers implement practices that benefit the environment, and they each currently serve distinct and complimentary purposes,” said Secord. “EQIP provides cost-share payments to producers to implement structural or management practices on their operations, and it has been essential to new farmers and ranchers who are trying to run viable farming operations. On the other hand, CSP provides performance-based incentives to producers to achieve higher levels of comprehensive stewardship. Each program is critical to realizing our nation’s conservation goals.”

Secord said that many of the programs that support new and diverse markets are at risk of being cut in the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill. These programs, like the Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) increase the farmer’s share of the food dollar.

“The success of new, diverse markets for farmers has allowed us to meet consumer demand, connect better with them, and earn a much higher share of money they are spending on food. In addition to local and regional foods programs, the House proposal also eliminates funding for programs that make it easier for farmers to transition into organic agriculture. On the whole, these provisions would be very harmful to the markets that our members rely on.”

Secord said that PFU members urged their members of Congress to reject the harmful provisions included in the current version of the House Farm Bill, and to write a strong Farm Bill in the Senate that recognizes the value of vibrant and sustainable family farm operations, markets and rural communities.

“The Farm Bill touches all of our lives, and it has major implications for the future of our food system,” Secord said. “It is so important that our members of Congress get this bill right, and that’s why PFU members traveled to Washington this week to let our representatives know what’s at stake here for their constituents.”

“What we’ve seen so far out of the House of Representatives is a piece of legislation that cuts conservation, cuts local, regional and specialty market development, and provides little support to help family farmers and ranchers who are struggling with low farm prices. We need a better Farm Bill in 2018.”

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About PFU
Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU) was founded in 1982 as a charter member of the National Farmers Union (NFU), an agricultural advocacy organization founded in 1902 and based in Washington, D.C. Farmers Union is the nation’s premier farm organization dedicated to family farm agriculture, cooperative businesses, and rural communities. Pennsylvania’s membership is a growing and influential voice in the Pennsylvania Ag community.

Stay Connected
Look for us online at PAFarmersUnion.org and on Facebook and Twitter.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

The proposed cutting of EQIP and CSP funding will be a huge setback to the implementation of conservation practices necessary to help protect our soil, air and water resources.
If such funding is cut, it is doubtful that Pennsylvania will meet its goals of reducing nutrient loads to the Chesapeake Bay set by the Environmental Protection Agency and regulated by the Dept. of Environmental Protection assisted by conservation districts.
Or, funding for agricultural producers outside of the Bay watershed will receive less priority to those within said watershed affecting other important bodies of water and farmers livelihoods. This is already being implemented if you review the PA DEP Growing Greener grant package.
We need these monies to continue to supply the citizens of the United States with food grown in America. People should be taking advantage of their local farmers markets and supporting the producers to keep a local agricultural economy growing. When the ag economy dies, the town dies with it.