An Agenda for the 2018 Farm Bill

Oct 26, 2017
  • Description

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's (NSAC) vision of agriculture is one in which a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply is produced by diverse family farmers who are able to support their families and communities through farming and ranching. To fulfill that vision, NSAC prioritizes policies that create jobs and fuel economic development, support the next generation of farmers, protect our natural resources, and make healthy food widely available, including to children in low-income communities. The 2018 Farm Bill is a critical opportunity to reform national food and agriculture policy and to achieve these goals for a more sustainable food and farm future.

The policy proposals in this platform were developed in partnership with the farmers, ranchers, and communities that do the daily work of producing good food and building sustainable food systems. In preparation for the 2018 Farm Bill, NSAC staff and coalition members held listening sessions, conducted surveys, and ran workshops in order to gather feedback on the real-life effects of federal farm policies and to learn what improvements stakeholders hope to achieve in the next farm bill. With that input in hand, NSAC member organizations have developed, discussed, and debated numerous policy proposals over the past year and a half. Through a democratic priority setting process, NSAC members voted to adopt the comprehensive farm bill platform that follows.

What we heard overwhelmingly from stakeholders was that the 2014 Farm Bill's investments in beginning farmer programs, local and regional food systems, organic agriculture, and research have paid dividends. These programs made a real difference in the lives of producers and communities by helping to usher in the next generation of farmers and ranchers, increasing healthy food access, supporting the successful development of new rural enterprises, and ensuring that cutting edge systems and practices are available to all farmers and ranchers.

We also heard, however, that significant barriers persist that keep many of these programs from reaching their full potential. Within the Conservation Title, farmers and ranchers widely support prioritizing working lands conservation programs. We heard that the deep cuts made to conservation programs in the last farm bill are still being felt around the country, and that farmers, ranchers, and rural communities want to see these lost dollars recaptured in the 2018 Farm Bill. Finally, farmers and ranchers voiced strong support for an equitable farm subsidy system that helps beginning and minority farmers as well as small, diversified, and organic operations, and puts an end to the practice of providing unlimited subsidies to the biggest farm businesses.