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Dear Rebecca,

While there is no shortage of things to say on the policy front, I must first address what's happened between this edition of The Buzz and the last. 
We at CFSA continue to hold the farmers and others harmed in Hurricanes Florence and Michael in our thoughts. The policy team at CFSA is galvanized to think about how policy change could better serve local, organic farmers in times of disaster, and increase resiliency to make farmers better able to withstand intense weather events. 

One way we can step up to the plate is to relay what's happening on a federal level. The farm bill expired on September 30, leaving the nation’s farm and food policy future in limbo. Programs in the bill that support local, organic agriculture are now stranded high and dry. Without a new bill or an extension of the existing bill, they have effectively shut down in terms of new funding, farmer signups, and grant opportunities. 

Members of Congress hope that leaving the process unfinished will pressure lawmakers to compromise on things that matter to local, organic farmers just to get the bill finished. Unfortunately, this strategy irresponsibly and needlessly harms farmers and communities by forcing programs that support local, organic farms to shut down abruptly. 

In addition, it leaves potentially positive policy changes – found in large part in the Senate’s draft 2018 Farm Bill – unrealized on the negotiating table. We need a final bill to include these wins so they can become reality on the ground. 

Congressional staffs are meeting this month to negotiate components of a final bill while many legislators will be on the campaign trail.
Many components of a final package will be decided this month in private negotiations.   

What can you do? Call your member of Congress (or talk to them while they’re campaigning in your community!) and tell them we need a 2018 Farm Bill that: 

  • Invests in a sustainable future – by permanently funding programs that connect farmers and eaters, support beginning farmers and farmers of color, underwrite organic and sustainable agriculture research, and provide healthy food incentives for families
  • Protects our shared natural resources – by protecting the nation’s largest resource conservation program on working farm and ranch lands: the Conservation Stewardship Program
  • Targets support to family farmers instead of Wall Street – by maintaining payment limits and strengthening eligibility rules for farm subsidies
  • Ensures food access and dignity for families in need – by protecting the SNAP program from cuts

Thanks for all you do to support local, organic agriculture in the Carolinas and across the United States. 


Rochelle signature_cropped

Rochelle Sparko, CFSA’s Policy Director

PS- Don't forget to peruse our 2018 Questions for Candidates. Discover exactly what you should be asking candidates about where they stand on issues that impact farm and food systems.

What is there for ag-tivists at #CFSAC2018?

The 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Conference on Nov. 9-11 isn't just for farmers. Experts from around the country, including members of our own policy team, are putting on some fabulous sessions. Check out these workshops on the farm bill, racism, GMOS, & more!

🔊Labor & Immigration Listening Session (Roland, Rochelle, Jared, Glenn)
🔊2018 Farm Bill Update: Positive Policy Change in a Fractured Political Landscape
🔊Solving the Riddle: Dismantling Racism
🔊Creating the Food System We Want (Jared)
🔊It’s Getting Better All The Time: Policies to Support Farm to School (Rochelle)
🔊Food Justice Youth Programming
🔊Agricultural Biotechnology, Regulatory Oversight, & Product Labeling (Glenn)
🔊Political Pathways to Pesticide-Free Communities: A Suite of Stories & Approaches for Activists

And those are just to name a few! Check out our full list of workshops and schedule.

And as we said before, whether you're a farmer, concerned citizen, or a non-profit whiz, anyone and everyone is welcome. More information on registration here.

A Voter's Guide to Questions on Farm & Food Policy in the Carolinas
2018 Questions for Candidates equips you with questions you should ask candidates running for elected office to understand their positions on the policies that impact farms and food systems. This guide aims for candidates and their communities to think about food, farming, food security, community gardening, and the environment.

Remember, the more candidates learn about sustainable farming and food systems now, and how important they are to constituents, the more likely they’ll be to support policies that foster these systems once elected. 

Use this guide to discuss food system issues at public debates, forums, and town hall meetings.

Download '2018 Questions for Candidates'
If you read one food/farming article this month...
Here are the top picks for October from CFSA's policy team
Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer

Farm Bill Panel: Senate Bill or Bust

The expiration of the last farm bill on Sept. 30 puts farmers, technical assistance providers, researchers, farmers markets, food businesses, and community programs in a precarious position.

Without a new bill or an extension of the last, farm bill programs with no mandatory baseline funding will cease to operate by the end of this calendar year. Businesses and communities do not have a clear food and agricultural policy landscape to plan for the coming year. Some programs, like the Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program, have already been affected due to that fact that although they still have funding, the USDA’s authority to administer the programs ended on Sept. 30.

There are a number of USDA programs that will lose their funding until a new farm bill is passed, including the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Value-Added Promotion Grants Program and the Organic Cost Share Certification Program. This is why CFSA continues to work with our statewide and national partners to advocate for a new farm bill similar to the bipartisan farm bill passed by the Senate. 

This article highlights a recent farm bill panel that featured representatives from the Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Food Research and Action Center, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (of which CFSA is a member). The message from the panel, and that CFSA continues to share with our Congressional contacts in the Carolinas, is that Congress should pass a new farm bill this year based on the Senate bill. 
Rochelle Sparko, Policy Director

Policy Should Support Farmers Who Build the Soil

Given that two hurricanes just left a trail of damage through the Carolinas, I have been thinking a lot about how to support policies that increase resiliency on farms.

This article explains how a few farmers documented that implementing soil-building conservation practices also increased their bottom line. Even with this data, it will be difficult to convince other farmers to get on board. There are policies in place at farm lending institutions and within crop insurance programs that make it difficult to get a loan or get insurance if a farm is using some conservation practices.

Let's work together to improve farm resiliency by making sure that policies don't pressure farmers to avoid innovation.
Glenn Kern, Organic Policy Coordinator

Good News: American Farms Are Growing More Organic Soybeans

Most people are surprised to learn that the United States imports the vast majority of its organic soybeans--around 70%! After all, soybeans are one of the most commonly grown crops in the U.S.

As domestic demand for organic meat and dairy products has gone up in recent years, so has the demand for organic feed grains like corn and soybeans. But our organic farms have not kept pace. This has led the U.S. organic livestock industry to rely heavily on imported organic grains

In theory, there's nothing wrong with importing organic products. Farmers all over the world rely on international markets. However, in recent years concerns have been raised about the potential for fraud in the international supply chain of organic feed grains. But perhaps more importantly, organic grain production is an economic opportunity for American grain farmers, many of whom are struggling right now. 

As discussed in this article, a recent report found significant gains over the past year in the number of organic farms growing soybeans and the total acreage that is devoted to organic soybean production.


The 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, good for growers, and good for the land.

The greater our numbers, the louder our voice for vibrant, sustainable local food systems!
Ask your friends to sign up to receive the Buzz!
Copyright © 2018 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, All rights reserved.

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