Unless the Senate acts to fix the situation next week,

 

Our best chance.

Posted: 08 Mar 2013 10:02 AM PST

Dear Supporter,

Unless the Senate acts to fix the situation next week, 2013 is on track to be the worst setback for sustainable agriculture in years.  Opportunities for farmers to implement smart conservation practices will be severely limited.  Training opportunities for the next generation of beginning and minority farmers will dry up.  Microloans to the very small businesses that drive economic recovery in rural America will cease.  Organic farming research and cost share funding will be greatly diminished.

What’s going on?

Back in the fall, Congress made a mistake that prevents farmers from signing up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year, leaving over 9,000 farmers high and dry.*  And when Congress extended the old farm bill on New Year’s Eve, they left out dozens of critical sustainable agriculture programs – leaving them stranded without funding for the year!**

On Monday, the Senate will take up its own version of the bill to fund government programs through the rest of 2013 – and the Senate has a chance to fix the CSP mistake and to restore funding for key sustainable agriculture programs.  But they’ve got to know these issues matter.

The House failed to include these priorities in the funding bill it passed this week – the Senate can fix this!

Don’t let Congress leave these programs stranded!  Speak out today!

Please call your Senators:

Find their phone numbers here: http://bit.ly/findmySenator

An example message for your Senator is: “I am calling about the Continuing Resolution.  Please tell the Senator to fix the Conservation Stewardship Program so USDA can hold a farmer sign-up this year.  Also tell the Senator to support mandatory funding in the bill for the programs that were stranded in the farm bill extension, including [name a few of the “stranded” programs below that are important to you, your farm, and your community!].**  These programs are important to farmers in [tell them your state!], and they must be funded.”

Making a call takes only a few moments – please call right now!

Thanks for all you do,

Sarah and Shavaun, The NSAC Grassroots Team

—————————————————————–

* The problem impacting the Conservation Stewardship Program is a technical error that is currently preventing USDA from conducting a 2013 sign-up for the program.  This error can be corrected with a no-cost fix that will allow USDA to help farmers and ranchers install conservation practices this year!

** Some of the programs currently stranded without funding include:

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
Value-Added Producer Grant Program
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program
Rural Energy for America Program
Organic Agriculture Research & Extension Initiative
National Organic Certification Cost Share Program
Organic Production & Market Data Initiatives
Farmers Market Promotion Program
Outreach & Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers
Conservation Reserve – Transition Incentive Program

It seems that many of the institutions we think promote small local farming have always been waiting for work with big organizations that simply claim to be working with small local farmers

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130218/mott-haven/freshdirect-talk-at-tedxmanhattan-angers-some-bronx#ixzz2LMqgNxD1

FreshDirect Talk at TEDxManhattan Angers Some in the Bronx Updated February 18, 2013 6:39am

February 18, 2013 6:39am | By Patrick Wall, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer
South Bronx Newsletter
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I’ll never forget the night I was introduced at a cocktail party  as a farmous local herbalist to a famous visiting Indian physician. Just as we was going to shake my hand, the person introducing me joyously referred to me as ‘our biodynamic farmer,’ and the physician’s faced dropped, as did his outstretched hand and he got away from me as soon as possible. To much of the world, farmers remain dirty and dumb. Not someone to associate with, let alone listen to. Gosh, I can’t think badly of TEDx, we’ve got sustainable ag non profits that seem to be more interested in working with other large organizations that work agains the interests of small local farmers than they are in working with, or, god help ’em, for, local small farmers. – Farmer Allan

SOUTH BRONX — Some Bronxites were offended to learn last month that TEDxManhattan, a high-profile conference devoted to the sustainable food movement, had knocked Tanya Fields, a South Bronx mother and urban farmer, off its roster of speakers.

Now, the same locals are fuming again because they found that while Fields did not speak at Saturday’s conference, David McInerney, a co-founder of FreshDirect, whose plan to relocate to the Bronx waterfront has provoked fierce opposition, did.

“It’s removing a person of color from a community where food issues are her main subject matter, and bringing in someone to talk about food with a corporate interest,” said Mychal Johnson, a Mott Haven resident and member of the anti-FreshDirect group, South Bronx Unite.

While the event’s organizer, Diane Hatz, insisted that her decisions on Fields and McInerney were unrelated, critics say the moves silenced an inner-city activist, while providing a platform for a company they say is mostly focused on well-off foodies.

“It speaks volumes about TEDxManhattan’s commitment to communities of color and working-class communities in the city,” said Monxo Lopez, a member of South Bronx Unite, which has filed a lawsuit to block FreshDirect’s move to The Bronx.

Fields, meanwhile, said that McInerney’s spot on the lineup reflected a bias towards big-name, mainstream food movement players and away from grassroots activists.

“It’s a prime example of them giving a platform to corporate, elitist actors in the food system,” Fields said last week. “It’s a conference about changing the way we eat, but it’s really about doing business as usual.”

On Saturday, Fields hosted her own event in Hunts Point, called “Not Just Talk: Food in the South Bronx.”

Hatz noted that, with the aid of a mediator, she had eventually re-invited Fields to the conference, but Fields declined to attend in order to host her own event. She also said McInerney was not a replacement for Fields, but had been on the lineup before Fields was disinvited.

TEDxManhattan “is a showcase for the sustainable food and farming movement and works to highlight different voices, ideas and opinions,” Hatz wrote in an email. “There is an open speaker call every year where everyone in the food movement is encouraged to apply to be a speaker.”

In a statement, FreshDirect said it works to improve nutrition and expand access to healthy foods and has developed deep relationships with local farmers and fishermen.

“Just this week, the company was recognized for its work on reducing salt,” the statement said. “It’s also been a leader inthe effort to expand the food stamp program and is a major contributor to food banks throughout New York.”

McInerney, a former chef, planned to speak at the conference about building better relationships with farmers as a way to make healthy sustainable foods taste better and replace unhealthy processed foods, FreshDirect said.

He was set to be introduced by Majora Carter, a green jobs consultant who got her start as a South Bronx environmental activist. FreshDirect hired Carter last year to help it garner local support for its planned 500,000 square-foot facility in the Harlem River Yards.

Since it was announced last year that FreshDirect intended to build a new headquarters in Port Morris, aided by nearly $130 million in proposed public subsidies, some South Bronx residents have blasted the plan as a taxpayer-funded misuse of the Bronx waterfront that will pollute the community with delivery-truck fumes.

Others welcome the nearly 1,000 jobs the company has promised to add with the expansion.

LaDonna Redmond, a food justice advocate who was scheduled to speak both at TEDxManhattan and Field’s Bronx event, said she sympathized with the FreshDirect critics’ concerns, but thought their anger at TEDxManhattan was unproductive.

“At the end of the day, the issues they’re talking about, that won’t change because somebody’s speaking at TEDx,” said Redmond, a senior program associate at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “That will only change because people come to the table and negotiate.”

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130218/mott-haven/freshdirect-talk-at-tedxmanhattan-angers-some-bronx##ixzz2LNaWskzp

Incredible Edible – Grows

 

 

 

Crisis: from France to Greece, going back to the land

French collective gardens; Greek church offers farming plots

27 December, 17:08

 Greek farmers harvesting olives [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20070201 ]

(by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) – ROME, DECEMBER 27 – In recession-battered Europe, governments are not the only ones responding to the crisis with top-down policies, be they austerity or growth measures: the grassroots has also come into play, following the back to the land concept.

Called Incroyables Comestibles, the French version of the Incredible Edible movement, which began in the UK in 2008, involves planting collective vegetable gardens in easily accessible public spaces, such as school yards and in front of police stations, from which each can pick for free, according to his or her own need. In France, this movement began in the spring of 2012, and has spread to the four corners of the Republic, thanks in part to social media.

In Greece, now in its fifth consecutive recession year, the powerful Orthodox Church, which owns about 40% of the country’s land, is offering lots to anyone willing to farm them. ”We want you to know that whoever is willing to work Greek land, to contribute to the country’s food security and to the development of a modern and exportable agriculture and animal farming model, has what is left of the church’s land at their disposal,” the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, said in his traditional Christmas address to the nation. He did not, however, specify if the land is for free or for rent.

The Greek government has already started a successful program, with almost 10,000 lots of public domain land assigned to young farmers at cut-rate rental prices: 5 euros per acre per season, with a maximum of 100 acres per person. In Greece in 2008-2010, agriculture was one of the country’s few growth sectors, with 32,000 jobs created, according to the New York Times.

http://ansamed.ansa.it/ansamed/en/news/sections/generalnews/2012/12/27/Crisis-France-Greece-going-back-the-land_8002638.html