Today marked the end of a long journey to pass a new Farm Bill as it passed the Senate on Tuesday and was signed into law by President Barrack Obama today. Relevant to new provisions in the bill, the signing took place at a farmers market in East Lansing, Michigan.
CFA has been well informed by our national partners including the National Family Farmers Coalition and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition throughout this long process including the past week as details about each provision have been outlined. Now we are pleased to pass this information along to our Kentucky members.
What is clear is that at the state level we should be working together to understand how we will be affected and also how new provisions will be implemented, regulated and held accountable. This is going to take a good deal of people power as we learn how to lessen the impacts of funding cuts and make the most of new opportunities. And looking further down the road, we should be evaluating our priorities and collectively working towards a vision for the next farm bill.
So, let’s start with what is coming down the pike from this newly enacted legislation… Continue reading
The winter of 2014 is one that we won’t be forgetting for a while. After two attempts to hold CFA’s Annual membership Meeting, CFA’s Board chose to exercise their powers under the By-laws and voted to accept the five nominees for the five open Board seats. The Board will choose the officers at the next Board meeting.
Your 2014 CFA Board is:
Ben Abell, Jefferson Co., farmer
Carla Baumann, Madison Co., farmer
Marlena Bolin, Oldham Co., farmer
Lily Brislen, Fayette Co., rural sociologist
Nelson Escobar, Oldham Co., farmer
Todd Howard, Floyd Co., farmer
Renee Koerner, Campbell Co., farmer
Lisa Markowitz, Jefferson Co., professor
Josh Orr, Jefferson Co., market manager
Cathy Rehmeyer, Pike Co., farmer
Louie Rivers, Franklin Co., Ag extension
The Board and staff will be working to provide other opportunities to provide the communications training and member input through webinars, regional meetings and the summer Leadership summit. Look for more information in the upcoming newsletter.
CFA 28th Annual Meeting RESCHEDULED for Saturday, January 25th at the Kentucky State University Research and Demonstration Farm
Click HERE to Register
Check it out here! The following link will take you to the full powerpoint: Food safety, FDA rules, nov, 2013
Interested in writing comments to the FDA? Check out this Sample Letter
Partially adapted from the National Farmers Union
Since 1976 there have been 17 government shutdowns, the longest lasting 21 days in 1995-1996. But, since we are in a Farm Bill revision year, this shutdown’s impacts are seen from the field to the fork. And it’s the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program that will be dealt the smallest fork and the family farmers whom we rely on will be stranded without access to any “non-essential” USDA services.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is furloughing all employees except for 17 presidential appointees and employees considered “essential.” According to USDA, “essential” employees are those that perform emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. However, local Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, or Natural Resources Conservation Service staff will not be considered essential, so farmers and ranchers will not be able to receive any loans for programs they have applied for.
This particular part of the shutdown is already affecting CFA farm members. One member was unable to close on their farm property and is now in limbo trying to keep their contract alive.
Learn more about the FSA office closure plan by clicking on this Report. In addition learn how the Rural Development office has been affected by clicking HERE.
Farm Program Payments
Farm program payments for crops planted in 2013 would continue after the farm bill expires September 30. However, payments would not be able to be delivered under a government shutdown.
Food safety inspectors are considered essential and would stay on at the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) would also continue inspections to the extent they’re paid by user fees.
Rural Development Programs
Rural development programs would be put on hold, and no additional loans/grants, including RD rural housing loans or guarantees, will be issued. Projects already financed that are under construction would also be delayed. These programs include the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Rural Community Development Initiative Grants, Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants (REDLG), among several others.
Because National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff is not considered essential, enrollment in conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), and Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP) would stop. In addition, there would be no future financial assistance or technical assistance available through NRCS staff. However, USDA would continue to honor existing contracts.
Foreign Agricultural Service
Funding for Foreign Agricultural Service’s Foreign Market Development Program and Market Access Program could be delayed. Funding for international offices and staff will stop.
Funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the federal school lunch program would continue. However, funding would stop for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children (WIC)—which provides grants to states for food aid, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income woman and children. Learn more about the details of the USDA Nutrition Services branch shut down by clicking on this detailed guide to the branch’s shut down. FNS Guide
As already noted, Forest Service employees deemed essential, such as firefighters, would stay on. However, national parks across the nation would be closed. This includes the Smithsonian museums, National Zoo and civil war battlefields and the national monuments in Washington, D.C.
The bottom line is that bi-partisan politics are threatening the livelihood of our rural communities and the health of our most vulnerable populations including Women, Infants and Children. And the big hold up is over the Affordable Care Act that will finally provide farmers with access to affordable care, which has been an issue that we have been lifting up since the beginning of CFA in the early 80s.
Finally, our farmers, who work in one of the most dangerous occupations will be covered and will have the ability to insure the well-being of their families and a future for agriculture in Kentucky. This is a future where farm families don’t have to work part-time or seek employment off the farm. This is a future that supports the people who support us and values rural and urban communities. And, surprisingly this future will save our state billions of dollars in preventative health care costs (many who are suffering in our poorest rural communities). And, that future is the PRESENT, so there is no reason to play politics with our health, economies and our heritage.