2015 25.2 Policy Update

Tilth Producers Policy Update

State Policy

Our state legislative session continues! A draft budget has been released, though there is still time to weigh in on state budget options to support sustainable agriculture funding priorities.

Healthy Farms – Healthy Food – Healthy Kids!

This package of legislation will do three things: • Fully fund the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm-to-School Programs (at $1 million over two years) • Establish an “Apple a Day” grant program to provide schools with kitchen equipment to cook real food from scratch • Expand school farming programs for at-risk youth

The proposed budgets provide $1 million for the Apple a Day program and $99 thousand to expand school farming programs, but do not currently include any additional funding for the Small Farm Direct Marketing Program. Stay tuned for action alerts about how you can weigh in to save funding for this important program.

Farmland Preservation Funding in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition held a lobby day requesting an increase funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program to $97 million, to result in $8.7 million in funding for farmland preservation. The draft budget includes $95 million total for the program, meaning $6.5 million for farmland preservation.

Saving the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program

The proposed budget includes $440 million over two years for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and no cuts to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. We are relieved that both programs will continue to provide local food to families in need.

Federal Policy

This spring, there are several opportunities moving to support our top priority policy issue on the federal level: beginning farmers and ranchers.

Student Debt Forgiveness for Farmers

The National Young Farmers Coalition has launched a campaign to add farming to the list of careers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. For those enrolled in the program this would mean that after ten years of full-time farming and incomeadjusted student loan payments, farmers’ student debt would be forgiven.

Farm to School Act of 2015

As the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization process begins, a bipartisan team of legislators has introduced the Farm to School Act of 2015, a “marker bill” which spells out all the ways the reauthorized bill can support farm-to-school efforts. To endorse the bill, visit: bit.ly/1B2ktYn

Agriculture Funding

The federal budget climate is no more generous than ours in Washington state. In fact, the recently passed House budget committee bill instructs the Agriculture Committee to cut $1 billion over ten years (0.1% of the total budget) out of the farm bill passed last year, effectively re-opening the bill. The Senate budget bill does not include instructions to re-open the farm bill. Appropriations of discretionary farm bill funding are also expected to remain constrained as neither budget bill increases spending caps for 2016.

Bill to Prevent GE Labeling Introduced

Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas has introduced a bill which would prevent states and the Food and Drug Administration from passing GE labeling laws. The bill, which opponents are calling the “DARK (Deny Americans’ Right to Know) Act” and supporters know as “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling,” would also establish a new voluntary national labeling program for non-GE food. To encourage your Representative not to cosponsor Pompeo’s bill, please give him or her a call. You can reach any member of Congress through the Capitol Switchboard at 202- 224-3121.

Take Action

Call your Legislators in Olympia

Ask them to make sure the Operating Budget contains funding for the Small Farm Direct Marketing Program Legislative Hotline: 800-562-6000

Call Your Legislator in D.C.

Ask your Representative not to co-sponsor Rep. Pompeo’s bill preventing GE labeling: Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Endorse Farm to School Act:

bit.ly/1B2ktYn

Sign up for email alerts:

tilthproducers.org/list-serve

Learn more on our policy blog:

tilthproducers.org/category/policy

Ariana Taylor-Stanley is Policy Coordinator for Tilth Producers of Washington as well as Coordinator for the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group. ariana@tilthproducers.org

Tags: Farm-to-School Program, Farmland Preservation, Legislation, Policy, WIC

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