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Author: Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Executive Director

Photo credit: Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia Creative Commons

The 2018 bipartisan farm bill passed by Congress this week makes critically needed investments in sustainable agriculture. Among other beneficial outcomes for farmers and food producers, once signed into law by the President the bill will:

  • provide mandatory funding to support the development of regional food economies and market data initiatives focused on organic production;
  • reauthorize ATTRA and SARE;
  • substantially increase funding for agriculture research and provide $50 million in permanent baseline funding for OREI organic research and for the new Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP);
  • add soil health as a research priority; and
  • more effectively supply beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and food producers with the resources they need to start and operate successful food and farming businesses.

Still, there are areas of concern. Importantly, the bill does not make climate change mitigation and adaptation a research priority; provides no additional funding for most farm-to-school initiatives and does not resolve known procurement issues; does not make vital reforms to commodity and crop insurance programs; cuts billions in conservation programs in terms of baseline funding for the next farm bill; and does not include authorization or funding for measuring, evaluating, and reporting conservation outcomes.

You can read more about the many gains for sustainable agriculture and local food systems contained in the bill, as well as its shortcomings, on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog.

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