Farm Bill time: The most important phone call you will make this year

This is a busy time for food policy. Our country’s biggest piece of agricultural legislation, the Farm Bill, is being drafted right now in a hasty and secretive process, in response to urgency to balance the national budget.

The situation is complicated. Many important programs are at risk, while at the same time new, promising marker bills have been introduced. Reform also seems imminent for the direct commodity subsidy payment system which has kept our food system out of balance for so long.

Now is a great time to act!

Our biggest target here in Washington State is Senator Patty Murray, who is serving as co-chair of the supercommittee tasked with cutting our federal budget by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Please call Senator Murray’s office and share your concerns over the Farm Bill process, using some or all of the talking points below. Feel free to personalize your message with your own story.

If you have extra time, call your other Congresspeople, who you can find here by entering your zip code, and give them the same message.

The message:

I am a Washington State farmer/farm advocate, calling Senator Murray [or whoever you are calling] to deliver this message:

* The proposed farm conservation cuts are too big and should be reduced. In particular, the working lands conservation funding should be retained and Wetlands Reserve Program funding should be restored.

* Farm commodity program reform should include caps on the amount of subsidy any one farm can receive. Loopholes allowing multiple subsidy payments to single farms should be closed. Conservation requirements should be attached to all forms of revenue and crop insurance subsidies.

* The farm bill must reinvest at least $1 billion a year in innovative, job-creating programs for rural economic development, local and regional food systems, renewable energy, organic farming, and young and beginning farmers.

* Please show your support for Washington farms like mine by co-sponsoring the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act and the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act.

Thanks for taking a moment to stand up for sustainable agriculture. Your call matters!