The federal Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation that impacts every one of us. However issues arising around rural socio-economic collapse, soil loss, and water degradation suggest the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill is a historic opportunity to shift agriculture in a more regenerative direction. By rooting the Farm Bill around strong soil health principles we can solve our economic and environmental woes, while restoring the health and wellness of a nation. The current Farm Bill discussion should incorporate regenerative reform minded initiatives that can help farmers and ranchers shift into a more solution-oriented and risk adverse transition towards regenerative agriculture principles and practices.
Join Regenerate America and a growing number of farmers and ranchers, landowners, tribal communities, citizens, organizations and companies who believe soil is our common ground and that our future is dependent on the actions that we take today. Together we can achieve wide-scale adoption of regenerative agriculture.
GC RESOLVE FARM BILL POLICY PRIORITIES
The below GC Resolve Farm Bill Policy Priorities has been worked on with feedback from many farmers and partner organizations including Regenerate America. These priorities can serve as a policy brief on how to best engage in the 2023 Farm Bill. The policy priorities listed can be used as suggestions when advocating for environmental and equitable farm policy changes with our Congressional Representatives. If the below suggestions are pursued farmers and ranchers will be able to halt erosion, preserve our waterways, reduce rising greenhouse gas emissions, provide for more access to nutritionally abundent food, and allow for the next generation of young, diverse farmers to lead the future of agriculture.
As the U.S. swiftly transitions to climate-smart regenerative agriculture practices, it is vital there are enough well-versed and contextually educated NRCS technicians and regional soil health ambassadors who are knowledgeable in soil health improving plants and practices for their respective ecologies. Here are three ways to expand soil health expertise to safely guide the next generation of regenerative farmers and ranchers:
- Expand education of NRCS technicians to have an increased focus on soil health, watershed restoration, and best practices for differing ecologies, ensuring strong technical advice in soil health is available to all farmers.
- Support in varying respective communities for culturally appropriate community groups or non-profits that can help guide and mentor the next generation of farmers. The scope of extension services should also be expanded to help provide more guidance to transitioning farmers.
- Implement soil health, nutrition and natural health curriculum and technical training into various college level institutions including Land Grant Universities, Community Colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities.
- Beginning Farmer Loan Programs for purchasing land are not easily accessible for most new farmers. For example, currently the program only covers beginning farmers with 3-5 years of a Schedule F (claimed farm income). This means that almost all beginning farmers are prohibited from being eligible unless they are fortunate enough to have been handed down farmland. The 3-5 years of Schedule F clause should be stricken. Furthermore, these loans have a cap of $600,000 for land purchasing. Due to inflated land prices the $600,000 cap should be updated. Finally, the Beginning Farmer Loan Programs should be geared for prospective farmers who enter into a voluntary "Land Conservancy" (see below #4).
4. Prioritize Land Accessibility For The Next Generation with the Voluntary Land Conservancy Program
- There are very few inroads left for the next generation of farmers to access land, create farm businesses, and therefore regenerate the land. The price of land is just too expensive. This challenge presents a growing national security issue as the older generation is quickly transitioning the land to the highest bidder. To counter this risk, the Farm Bill must prioritize land transition incentives, such as a retirement credit, for the existing landowners, which will support the respective landowner if they bring on a young farmer (to farm their land). The land could be held voluntarily in a land conservancy until the young prospective farmer meets several requirements including business management training, watershed restoration, indigenous vegetation and soil health education, regenerative agriculture training, and display committed tenure to the land. The young farmer can attain possession of the land, and have their beginning farmer loans forgiven after completing the checklist.
NRDC REGENERATIVE POLICY REPORT
For a comprehensive report on farm policy, please review the NRDC's report: Regenerative Agriculutre: Farm Policy for the 21st Century. In this report, NRDC interviewed more than 100 farmers and ranchers from 47 states and Washington DC, to learn more about regenerative agriculture and the barriers to and opportunities for practicing it on more acres. The result is a list of policy recommendations to advance regenerative agriculture.
Review the report by clicking below.