by Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
know what it says.
Agriculture is a vibrant sector of our nation’s economy, yet high barriers to entry make farming and ranching one of the hardest careers to pursue. Limited access to land and markets, hyperinflation in land prices, high input costs, farm and tax policy disadvantages, and lack of training discourage many would-be producers from entering agriculture. This is a major challenge for national food security as the average age of the American farmer is now 57-years-old, and the fastest growing group of farm operators are those 65 years and older. Despite these significant hurdles, there are dedicated people who see great opportunities in agriculture today and want to start their own farm or ranch businesses.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act will invest in the next generation of American producers by:
- Enabling access to land, credit, and technical assistance for new producers.
- Assisting new producers to launch and strengthen new farm and value-added businesses.
- Helping new producers become good land stewards.
- Providing training, mentoring, and research that beginning farmers and ranchers need to be successful.
- Conducting outreach on agricultural job opportunities for military veterans.
Title I – Conservation Continue Reading →
Professor of Law and Director, LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law
via Little City Gardens. A public hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. CA greenhorns, take action!
Access to land is a crucial issue for small scale farming, both urban and rural, and as we’ve previously talked about here, insecure land tenure has been one of the biggest obstacles we’ve come across in our three years of operating this farm. Running a successful, financially sound business has been particularly challenging without a reliable long term lease, as it has greatly limited the kind of investment we can safely make, both physically (in the form of long term perennial crops, thorough irrigation setup, and necessary infrastructure like hoop houses and cold storage) as well as personally (how we are able to commit to and shape our lives around this project). Because the land we farm is currently owned by a developer, we never quite know when our month-to-month lease will be terminated, or when our rent will suddenly spike in order to more adequately cover the owner’s rising costs. Also, in our particular case, the property we’re using is ill-suited for development due to it’s irregular orientation (a long, narrow lot surrounded on three sides by backyards) and a very high water table. Unfortunately, these factors are negligible when it comes to the property’s market value, and the property taxes are exorbitant. It’s hard to imagine commercial farms thriving in cities, providing food at prices comparable to their rural counterparts, when urban land is exclusively and without exception valued in terms of its potential real estate.
Full story, including how to take action, here: http://www.littlecitygardens.com/2013/04/land-tenure-legislation/
For the past year or so, a group of urban agriculture activists here in SF, has been working to push forward the idea of incentivizing urban property owners to sign long term leases with farmers by offering an adjusted property tax rate. If a property owner agrees to put their land into long-term agricultural use (10 years or more), the county could opt to assess the property at a lower rate based on it’s agricultural use instead of its market value. Over the year, we’ve had countless meetings discussing the idea, brainstorming its implications, and researching similar models (there are few, but a helpful starting point was California’s Williamson Act). Fortunately, State Assemblymember Phil Ting (former SF Tax Assessor), looking for ways to promote urban agriculture at the state level, has recently adopted the idea and has officially introduced statewide legislation known as Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act (AB 551).
You can find the current draft of the legislation here, along with a comprehensive FAQ about the bill here. It should be noted that the legislation is still in draft form, and our group of SF urban ag activists is strongly pushing for a few key changes to the draft before it’s finalized. We’ll post updated language to the draft as it unfolds.
This legislation could directly affect the sustainability of projects like ours, and even more importantly, could generate opportunities for more self-sustaining commercial farms to sprout up in cities throughout California. I think this could be a promising step toward the viability of urban farming, as well as toward widening its accessibility by lowering a significant financial barrier. And, more broadly, if this legislation passes and is put into use, it could help bridge the gap between urban and rural food production and consumption, and California’s cities could be on a path to becoming stronger and better-informed allies in advocating for a healthier agricultural system overall.
Join us for a Farm-Based Listening Session with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene!
Saturday, April 13th, 10 AM – 12:30 PM Local Roots Farm, Duvall
Share your thoughts on the Farm Bill and other federal policy issues that affect Washington farmers with our new House Agriculture Committee member, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene. Join us as we show the Congresswoman around a successful, working, direct-market farm in her district and talk about key issues. Not familiar with policy issues and want to join us anyway? Don’t worry – the event will start with a briefing on key issues!
10:00 AM: Policy issue briefing and walk-through
11:00 AM: Congresswoman DelBene arrives, tour 12:00 PM: Question and answer period See this information on our policy blog
For more information or to RSVP, contact Ariana Taylor-Stanley: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com], 206.660.8958 This event is a collaboration between Tilth Producers of Washington, the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, and the Washington Young Farmers Coalition. Funding is provided by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Please support our work on the Tilth 2013 Policy platform.
Trailer for Godfrey Reggio movie “the holy see”
“The Crisis of Civilization Watch”, is a documentary feature film investigating how global crises like ecological disaster, financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages are converging symptoms of a single, failed global system.
—By Tom Philpott
Back in 2009, when President Obama chose Kathleen Merrigan as second in command at the US Department of Agriculture, celebration erupted in sustainable-food circles. Last Thursday afternoon, the USDA announced the imminent end of Merrigan’s run as deputy secretary of ag with a terse note from USDA chief Tom Vilsack. It gave no reason for her departure, which is effective at the end of April.
For generations, the message from the US Department of Agriculture to the nation’s farmers could be summed up in the famous piece of advice offered by Ezra Taft Benson, President Dwight Eisenhower’s USDA chief: “get big or get out.” That’s why Merrigan’s tenure is so significant. Under her influence, the USDA suddenly began to urge consumers to “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,” and made a concerted effort to marshal USDA resources to support local and regional food systems supplied by farms of varying scales: the opposite of the globalized, monolithic system envisioned by Benson and put into place with the consent of his successors.
America: Becoming a Land Without Farmers
by Evaggelos Vallianatos
published May 2, 2013 in Independent Science News
The plutocratic remaking of America has a parallel in the countryside. In rural America less than 3 percent of farmers make more than 63 percent of the money, including government subsidies. The results of this emerging feudal economy are everywhere. Large areas of the United States are becoming impoverished farm towns with abandoned farmhouses and deserted land. More and more of the countryside has been devoted to massive factory farms and plantations. The consequences, though worse now than ever, have been there for all to see and feel, for decades.
Walter Goldschmidt, an anthropologist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was already documenting the deleterious effects of agribusiness on small communities in California’s Central Valley as long ago as the 1940s (1).
He revealed that a community (he studied the town of Dinuba in northern Tulare County) with small family farmers thrived. Its economy and cultural life were vigorous and democratic. Thus the Dinuba of 1940 was a middle-class town whose residents were not divided in any significant manner by differences in wealth. They had a stable income and strong interest in the life of their community.
However, the town surrounded by industrial farms (he studied Arvin in southeastern Kern County) did not share in the prosperity of agribusiness. Its schools, churches, economic and cultural life were impoverished. Its residents were sharply divided in terms of wealth. Only a few of them had a stable income. The rest barely made it. Even the managers of Arvin’s large farms did not live in Arvin. The town had become a rural slum and a colony of the plantations.
read the full article HERE
Thank you for standing up. !