2013 23.1 Tilth Producers Policy Update

Conference Policy Briefing Session

Approximately 50 people attended the policy briefing session at this year’s annual conference. At this session, Ellen Gray, Anne Schwartz, Steve Hallstrom, and Ariana Taylor-Stanley shared updates on the items on Tilth Producer’s 2013 Policy Agenda. Members can read the agenda online at http://bit.ly/tilthplatform2013.

Lobby Day on January 21, 2013

15% of respondents to our policy priority survey noted that they were interested in attending in-person meetings with legislators. There are many lobby days coming soon, so you may have a chance to do just that! Join us for a Food and Farm Lobby Day on Monday, January 21st – contact Policy Intern Ariana Taylor-Stanley at ariana@tilthproducers.org or (206) 660-8958 to register. Can’t make it on the 21st? Farm issues are also on the agenda for Have a Heart for Kids Day on January 30th, WA Wildlife and Recreation Coalition Lobby Day on February 13, and Hunger Action Day on February 22nd.

Issue updates

Farm-to-Market Program
The budget for Washington State Department of Agriculture’s “domestic marketing” program, which supports the development of a regional food system via technical support navigating regulations on farm-to-school, marketing programs, and food safety workshops, was completely eliminated in 2011. Tilth Producers has joined the Good Food Coalition in an effort to advocate for general funds to re-establish funding for these “farmto-market” services in 2013. To endorse this effort, contact Ellen Gray at egray@wsffn.org or (360) 336-9694.
GMO Labeling
As this Tilth Producers Quarterly goes to press, the “Label It WA” campaign for legislative initiative I-522 to label Genetically Modified (GMO) foods has reached its goal of 320,000 signatures. This makes it very likely that the initiative will then go to the state legislature, who will either vote to pass it or to put it on the ballot for a state vote. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.labelitwa.org.
Farmland Preservation
Tilth Producers supports American Farmland Trust’s advocacy for full funding of the WA Wildlife and Recreation Program, which awards grants to 22 farmland preservation projects. To add your name to a sign-on letter supporting this campaign, contact Ariana at ariana@tilthproducers.org or (206)660-8958.

Farm Bill

Along with the eleventh-hour legislation to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, Congress passed a nine-month extension to the 2008 Farm Bill, which had expired in September. Unfortunately, this bill primarily extends direct payment subsidies for commodity production (which Congressional agriculture leadership had previously agreed to eliminate). The bill also fails to extend important programs supporting conservation, organic agriculture, beginning farmers, and much more or to make any sort of headway on reform, as the Senate-passed bill and the extension measure proposed by Agriculture Committee Chairs Stabenow and Lucas did. In the words of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Policy Director Ferd Hoefner, “[t]he message is unmistakable – direct commodity subsidies, despite high market prices, are sacrosanct, while the rest of agriculture and the rest of rural America can simply drop dead.”

Tags: Farm Bill, Farm-To-Market Program, Farmland Preservation, GMO Labeling, Lobby Day, Policy Agenda

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