Americans all around the country from every corner of our society are standing up and taking direct action to protect the programs and policies that allow them to thrive. Now is the time for all groups to make their voice heard and small, sustainable, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers are no different. If you work to feed your community, your representative needs to hear your experience. The appropriations process for fiscal year 2018 has already begun. Perhaps even more importantly, the planning for the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, passed about every 4 years, encompasses a comprehensive agriculture and nutrition policy ranging from crop insurance subsidies and grant programs to the SNAP program that feeds families in need across the nation.
If you or your farm have participated in any federal program to get assistance for your farm, your lawmaker needs to hear from you. Farmers are powerful stakeholders. Stewarding the land and feeding the community and puts farmers in a position to tell legislators what their rural constituents need to succeed. For example, if you have participated or have feedback on any of the following programs get ready to call up your lawmakers:
- 2501 Grant program for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers
- Conservation Reserve Programs including Grasslands and Working Lands Programs
- OAO programs at the USDA for beginning farmers and ranchers
- Whole Farm Revenue Protection Crop Insurance
- Crop insurance for Organic crops previously unavailable
- FSA operating or land purchase loans
If you have any feedback on these programs, let your lawmaker know! Look up your Representative and Senator and get in touch by in person or by phone. You can give them a call or stop by their home office in your district. Make sure to include your name, zip code, farm name, and your position on a program or policy (ie. “I want the Senator to support crop insurance reform”), and whether you would like a call back in any message you leave with the lawmaker’s staff so they will know you are a constituent and can record your position.
If you want to be more involved in the fight to protect these valuable programs, especially if your members of congress serve on the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee in the House or Senate.