Dear Rebecca,

Welcome to the October edition of The Buzz. Since 1986, the month of October has meant that CFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference (SAC) is just around the corner. As the largest sustainable food and farming gathering in the Southeast, SAC brings together hundreds of farmers, researchers, educators, activists, and foodies to learn from each other and share ideas about the many aspects of sustainable agriculture and local food through more than 55 workshops. Like last year, all of the workshops will be held virtual given COVID-19; however, this year we’re adding a day of on-farm workshops across the Carolinas! This year the conference will run from Nov. 5 to Nov. 15. 

SAC brings a lot of excitement for every team at CFSA, and the policy team is no exception. There are lots of opportunities to learn about sustainable agriculture policy and how you can get involved! Highlights include a panel of CFSA Member Advocacy Program graduates, the North Carolina Food System Advocacy Coalition, youth engagement in food councils, and a farm bill listening session with our friends at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). 

Plus, there will be an opportunity to enjoy your favorite cocktail (or mocktail) and learn about the work of the policy team over the last year. Register today! 

In solidarity,


Nick Wood, CFSA Advocacy Manager

Our 36th Sustainable Agriculture Conference, Nov. 5-15, 2021, kicks off in less than two weeks!

Some think the conference is just for farmers, but that's not true! There is a lot of stellar programming in the lineup for food and farm activists. Want proof?

In terms of opportunities to listen, here are some SAC 21 workshops:
  • Advocating in Coalition for Just, Sustainable, & Resilient Agriculture
  • Black Century Farms & Landownership
  • Fighting Food Apartheid With Farmers Markets
  • Food & Farming as a Platform for Sustainable Community Development
  • Farmers Working Together
    • Part 1: The New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association
    • Part 2: The Gullah Farmers Cooperative Association
  • How to Be an Effective Community Advocate
  • Keynote Panels:
    • Cooking Through Crisis: Culinary Industry Pivots to Bring Change
    • Missing Pieces in the Movement for Ethical Meat
  • Local Farms, Food Waste, & Feeding Communities
  • Making Agriculture Cool With Youth
  • Saving Our Collective Seed Sovereignty
  • Strengthening Local Economies With Food Hubs
  • Sustainable Poultry Production & Social Justice
In terms of interaction, here are some opportunities you can ask questions, meet like-minded folks, and dig in deeper:
  • Live Q&As:
    • Fighting Food Apartheid With Farmers Markets
    • Sustainable Poultry Production & Social Justice
  • Meetups:
    • Cocktails With CFSA's Policy Team
    • Networking for All Things Farmers Market
  • Round Tables
    • 2023 Farm Bill Listening Session
    • Eating Together Faithfully: Connecting Churches to Food Justice
    • Transformative Agriculture: Breaking the Chains of Unsustainable Agriculture
And there's so much more! Especially if you have a competitive spirit and want to win one of our many prizes (we have more than $3,000 in prizes)!

Food and farming advocates are important seats to fill at the table. Whether you're on a food council, regularly shop at farmers markets, or looking for ways to dig in deeper, we hope you'll join us to share ideas and build a resilient community around policy that supports local food and farms.

Attendees get access to the workshop recordings for three months, so you can re-listen to your favorites.

Register for SAC 2021 now and save! It's more affordable and accessible than ever before! Save your seat before prices jump on Nov. 4, 2021.



Here is a curated list of reads from the CFSA Policy Team
Nick Wood, Advocacy Manager

Farming Is Public Service & Should Be Included in Loan Forgiveness

The American food system is facing a demographic crisis. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average farmer is 58 years old. This crisis is exacerbated by the many obstacles young farmers face when trying to start a farm. The exorbitant amount of student loan debt looms large; a survey by the National Young Farmers Coalition indicates the average debt for farmers is $35,000.

North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, a Republican, and Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein have recognized the bi-partisan nature of this issue and taken action. The two joined forces to write a letter to the United States Department of Education, urging the agency to include farmers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Currently, only government and non-profit workers are eligible. This excellent story from Spectrum News features CFSA member Kamal Bell of Sankofa Farm on the challenges he faces stemming from student loan debt. 
Matt Kneece, South Carolina Policy Coordinator

Local Producers Crowdsourcing Solutions to Meat Processing Delays

When CFSA surveys our members about policy issues that hold back their farming operations, livestock bottlenecks are routinely at the top of the list. From months-long bottlenecks to hours-long commute times, the problem is only getting worse for many. Corporate consolidations over the last few decades, combined with burdensome federal regulations and workforce shortages, have created a nightmare scenario. 

Last week, the Associated Press published an incredible explainer on the causes, and possible solutions to, the ongoing problems in the meat processing sector. Local producers are coming together to crowdsource new independent plants to fill the void; federal legislation, like the PRIME Act and Strengthening Local Processing Act, are also promising paths to streamline the federal regulations holding back hardworking producers. 
Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer

NC Poultry Workers Exposed to Unknown Chemical 

Four months ago, the Mountaire Farms poultry processing plant in Robeson County, NC, introduced a new chemical to its processing lines, causing employees to quit due to extreme stinging in their throat, nose, and eyes. 

In large poultry processing plants, there is a “washing procedure” during processing where chemicals are applied via spray, wash, or as part of a water-chilling process that lowers poultry carcass temperature. 

The European Union banned this practice in 1997, but it is still common here because regulators have specifically deemed chlorine safe for use. This article from The Counter highlights the challenges poultry processing workers face even having access to information about what chemicals they are being exposed to at work.  

A huge thanks to some of our 2021 conference sponsors!

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