Supporting Sustainable Agriculture Producers

This month, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) held a summer meeting on August 7-10 in Orono, ME. NSAC advocates for federal policy reform for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. NCAP partners with NSAC to advocate for policies and programs that promote agricultural practices to conserve our soil, water, wildlife habitat, and energy resources.

The meeting served as an opportunity to review plans for the next year along with recent achievements. NCAP’s Healthy Food and Farms Program Director, Jade Florence, attended the meeting to participate in the discussion.
One of the major goals in the next year is to increase support for sustainable crop variety breeding, with the intended effect of enhancing choices for producers in deciding what to grow on their farms, creating better tasting and more nutritious food, and increasing crop resilience to extreme and unpredictable weather. Legislation supporting this endeavor will be released in the coming year. To support these efforts, constituents are encouraged to contact their legislators and express the importance of seeds and crop breeding to sustainable agriculture. 

To further support sustainable agriculture producers, NSAC has released several useful guides in 2016, all of which can be found here.

The Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs contains dozens of programs and policies- from loans to help producers make a down payment on land to financial incentives to help them farm more sustainably. 

The Organic Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Reserve Program Field Border Buffer Initiative will assist producers in gaining funds to enhance positive environmental outcomes on their farms by removing nutrients, trapping sediment, creating habitat for pollinators, and reducing pesticide and genetic drift from neighboring farms. According to Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director at NSAC, “Last year, there was record registration in the conservation reserve program- 8 million acres of buffer enrollment and 20,000 acres of organic field borders.” In addition, field border buffers can help organic producers meet National Organic Program (NOP) certification requirements for natural resource and biodiversity conservation.

The Farmer's Guide to Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) assists producers in applying for the CSP program, which provides comprehensive conservation assistance to farmers through payments for actively managing and maintaining current conservation efforts, expanding and improving on them, and adding new conservation activities—all while producers work their land for production and profit. 

Another important publication comes out of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and an advisory committee including members of NSAC and the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP). In this publication titled, Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments, 2002-2014,” OFRF analyzed 189 organic agriculture research, education, and extension projects funded by the USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions (ORG) competitive research grant programs to determine the progress these programs have made in addressing critical organic research needs as well as recommendations for enhancing program efficacy. 

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