2013 23.3 Tilth Producers Policy Update
WSDA Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm-to-School Programs
The WSDA Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm-to-School Programs have had $250,000 in funding restored in both Senate and House proposed budgets for the next biennium. This is half of the $500,000 Tilth Producers and other members of the Good Food Coalition asked for at Good Food and Farming Lobby Day in February, but certainly an improvement over the zero dollars allocated in the last budget cycle!
YES on 522, the campaign to pass ballot initiative 522 to label genetically engineered food in Washington re-launched in May with an all-star team and new website and logo. The campaign has hired Moxie Media, the consulting firm who helped pass Referendum 74 on marriage equality last year. They are already hard at work strategizing, conducting research on messaging, and fundraising for the campaign. Talking to undecided friends about the issue? Focus groups have found the message with the most impact is, “It’s your right to know”. To make a contribution or volunteer your time, visit www.yeson522.com.
Internship Pilot Program
SB 5123, the small farm internship pilot program bill, passed and was partially funded in the Senate budget, but received no action in the House. With no further action the bill will not pass this session. The small farm internship pilot program would have improved the educational quality of farm internships while protecting farmers and interns from liability. Tilth Producers will work to encourage reintroduction of and more House support for the internship program bill next year.
A bill which would have extended the property tax benefit farms over 20 acres receive to those under 20 acres passed the House but received no action in the Senate. Tilth Producers will continue to support efforts around this issue next year.
Another effort to preserve farmland has met with partial success. The Farmland Forever Campaign sought full funding of the WA Wildlife and Recreation Program. This program funds farmland preservation projects only after $40 million is allocated to other parts of the program. The proposed House budget includes $70 million for the program, but the Senate only $39 million.
June was a consequential month for the Farm Bill. First, the Senate passed its version of the 2013 Farm Bill, which includes historic subsidy reform, a fair amount of support for beginning farmers, many key organic programs, and support for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, but also cuts conservation programs, primarily the Conservation Stewardship Program. The House also created a Farm Bill which included some subsidy reform but not as much support for key programs which help small, sustainable growers, but then failed to pass that bill by a 195-234 vote. The path forward for the bill is not clear, but we continue to hope that Congress will successfully pass a 2013 Farm Bill and not resort to another disastrous partial extension of the expired 2008 Farm Bill like the law currently in effect.
Food Safety Modernization Act
The comment period on the proposed rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been extended to September 16, 2013. Farms which sell less than an average of $25,000 worth of food annually will be exempt from the proposed rules. Farmers who produce food that is usually consumed raw may see changes to regulations that may affect record keeping, water testing, hand washing, use of manure, and wildlife habitat conservation. To learn more and take action, visit sustainableagriculture.net/fsma/.
Seeking food donations
Tilth Producers will host our second annual policy-specific fundraiser on July 28th in Seattle (details on next page). We hope all members who are in the area will consider attending! We are also seeking donations of food items to be served at the event, including vegetables, herbs, cheese, and meat. To donate, contact Policy Coordinator Ariana Taylor-Stanley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Farm Bill, Farmland Preservation, FSMA, GE Labeling, Internship, Yes on 522