In 2017, the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment took a systems-view approach to the Federal Farm Bill review of 2018. CRAE started by focusing on the question, what are the pressures facing California agriculture, and why is it important to all of California to ensure agriculture’s vitality? With pressures such as climate change, urbanization, scarcity of water, and economic pressures, and the shared understanding that when agriculture erodes, so do the communities and ecosystems they are mutually dependent on, CRAE developed a comprehensive review of the Farm Bill. The letter included four priority areas, recommendations on nine of the Farm Bill’s titles, and was signed by fifteen of our member organizations across the spectrum of the environment and agriculture. See attached a two pager with the highlights, courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.
From CRAE “As members of the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment (CRAE), we urge Congress to maintain funding for, and improve delivery of, key programs that facilitate innovation and collaboration to address economic and environmental challenges related to agricultural production and conservation on California’s working lands.”
CRAE’s Top 4 Priorities are:
Priority 1: Maintain Conservation & Research Funding Maintaining funding for Conservation programs like EQIP, RCPP, ACEP, and CIG, and for the Research Title is critical to ensuring that our most productive lands are maintained in agriculture and that farmers can address critical economic and environmental challenges.
Priority 2: Streamline Program Access Farmers are not able to access beneficial programs due to a number of administrative challenges. Streamlining grant and cost-share programs will ensure that more farmers can access Farm Bill program funding.
Priority 3: Support Bio-Based Products Increasing support for innovation and research in bio-based products and biofuel research and industry is a shared priority for California’s forests and farms that would create rural economic benefits and reduce risk of forest fires through fuel reduction.
Priority 4: Fund Nutrition Programs Maintaining funding for SNAP and School Lunch programs benefits not only children, but the farmers who are contracted to support them. Using these programs to encourage local purchasing has multiplier effects throughout rural communities.