Dear Local Food Leader,

Welcome to the August 2021 edition of The Buzz. Things are heating up—and I’m not just talking about the weather. The CFSA Policy Team continues to lobby at the state level. We are advocating for initiatives that support small and mid-scale farms, local food businesses, and everyone who wants to strengthen local and regional food systems in the Carolinas. 

South Carolina continues to debate American Rescue Plan fund appropriations, and we are pushing for an expansion of the state's livestock processing infrastructure, increased support for the state's food hub network, and more funds for the existing GAP cost-share program. We are also laying the foundation for a productive 2022 state legislative push on several important policy issues. It might seem early, but the pre-filing date for bills will be here before you know it!

In North Carolina, our focus has been on the 2021-2022 state budget. One of our major priorities is $2 million of funding for CFSA’s FarmsSHARE program. For those not familiar, FarmsSHARE was created as a response to the need for emergency food relief due to the pandemic; it provides a free, weekly box of locally-grown food from 80 small, sustainable Carolina farms to households in need across North Carolina. 

In fantastic news, the NC House of Representatives included the requested funding in their budget proposal. This is a huge first step in securing state support to continue FarmsSHARE and a win for local farms, food hubs, and people in need of healthy food. Next, the NC House and Senate will appoint a joint committee to work out the differences between the two chambers’ spending proposals. We will be working to make sure this funding is in the NC House and NC Senate’s compromise final budget!

In solidarity,

Nick Wood, CFSA Advocacy Manager

PS - Did you see that we're going virtual for our 2021 Sustainable Agriculture Conference? The conference is Nov. 5-15 with a mix of virtual and on-farm intensives. While we're still bringing the programming online, know that there will be several meetups, sessions, and workshops on policy-related issues.
Keep an eye out for an email about Early Bird registration, which runs until Sept. 10. We want to make sure you policy wonks have a heads up in case you're on a budget or love a good deal and want to register for SAC 2021 right now!


Here are the top reads from the CFSA Policy Team
Matt Kneece, South Carolina Policy Coordinator

SC Food Hubs Play a Critical Role for Local Producers

​​Many producers have come to know and depend on their local food hubs as a reliable market in these times of uncertainty. Food hubs can connect farmers to buyers of all sizes, from individual consumers to restaurants and more, and are a convenient way for producers to unlock local and regional markets.
A recent article from the Orangeburg Times and Democrat highlights South Carolina’s growing food hub network and its invaluable work, and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s FarmsSHARE program even gets a mention! To continue their mission, however, the food hubs need ongoing promotion, infrastructure, and resources. CFSA is currently advocating for increased state support for the food hubs, so stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for advocacy opportunities.

Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer

NC House Budget Includes Prepared Food Recovery Funding

The NC House released its version of the state budget in early August. In addition to the $2 million in funding for FarmsSHARE, the budget also includes $62,000 for the NCSU Food Safety Extension Program, which would allow for the development of prepared food recovery resources and trainings. This is a direct advocacy request made by a group of food councils and their partners.

As Nick mentioned above, the NC Senate and NC House will now move into a joint committee where they will negotiate the final budget. The funding of the prepared food recovery resources must still make it into the combined budget, so advocacy to lawmakers is still critical.  The committee starts their work this week, and the News & Observer predicts that the governor could have a budget on his desk to sign by Labor Day. 
Nick Wood, Advocacy Manager

Black Farmers Still Left Behind at USDA

Much attention has been given to recent federal court decisions halting debt relief provisions for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers. But what is lost in much of the coverage is the extent to which farmers of color continue to be left out of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. In particular, USDA discrimination against Black farmers was proven in the Pigford decision in 1998, but little has changed. 

Only 37% of Black applicants received USDA loans compared with 71% of white applicants. Further, Black farmers face structural barriers relating to the complexity of the application process, loan terms that favor larger-scale farmers, and lack of support from local USDA offices. 

This article from Politico takes an in-depth look at the issues faced by Black farmers today following more than a century of discrimination. 

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Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is on a mission to bring local, organic food to your table from a farmer who shares your values – and we can’t do it without you. Together we are building a regional food system that is good for consumers, growers, and the land.

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