This is the first episode of a new six-part series focused on the one thing everyone in our network – from farmers to policymakers, organizers to corporate partners – seems to be laser focused on right now: the 2023 Farm Bill. We're joined by Billy Hackett, Policy Specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), for a high-level overview of the farm bill. We know... 1,000 pages of federal policy, how exciting, right?! But we’re here to convince you that this bill is the most important piece of legislation shaping the future of food in this country, and that it affects all of us. The farm bill influences what you eat every day, who grows your food and how they grow it, what food you can afford to buy, and even what you put in your gas tank. And we want you to know that you can help us make sure that this bill supports all of us–our families, our communities, and the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
This is the first episode of a new six-part series focused on the one thing everyone in our network – from farmers to policymakers, organizers to corporate partners – seems to be laser focused on right now: the 2023 Farm Bill.
We're joined by Billy Hackett, Policy Specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), for a high-level overview of the farm bill. We know... 1,000 pages of federal policy, how exciting, right?! But we’re here to convince you that this bill is the most important piece of legislation shaping the future of food in this country, and that it affects all of us.
The farm bill influences what you eat every day, who grows your food and how they grow it, what food you can afford to buy, and even what you put in your gas tank. And we want you to know that you can help us make sure that this bill supports all of us–our families, our communities, and the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Find all the resources that Jessica and Billy mentioned during their conversation on Young Farmers' 2023 Farm Bill webpage and sign-up for NSAC's weekly newsletter here.
Sign up for our One Million Acres for the Future campaign today by texting LAND to 40649 or by visiting p2a.co/land.
Become a National Young Farmers Coalition member at youngfarmers.org/join for only $1/year.
Produced by Jessica Manly and Evan Flom.
Edited by Hannah Beal.
Original podcast art by SJ Brekosky.
Jessica: This is the Young Farmers Podcast, and I'm Jessica Manly with the National Young Farmers Coalition. We're excited to be back with a new six-part series focused on the one thing everyone in our network, from farmers to policymakers, organizers, corporate partners, seem to be laser focused on right now: the 2023 Farm Bill.
I know, I know, a thousand pages of federal policy. How exciting, right? But we're here to convince you this bill is the most important piece of legislation shaping the future of food in this country, and that it affects all of us. The farm bill influences what you eat every day, who grows your food, and how they grow it, what food you can afford to buy, and even what you put in your gas tank. And we want you to know that you can help us make sure that this bill supports all of us, our families, our communities, and the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
It's been four years since the last farm bill, so we're going to start with a quick refresher. The very first farm bill was enacted as part of Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s, and ever since it's been debated and reauthorized about every five years.
The bill is broken up into sections called titles, which cover everything from commodity crops to conservation, forestry, energy, crop insurance, rural development, and the largest section nutrition. The nutrition title, which covers SNAP spending, otherwise known as food stamps, is actually the most expensive part of the bill; currently, over 325 billion dollars or almost 80% of the total price tag. For context, fruits and vegetables, quote unquote specialty crops and agricultural research, renewable energy, local and regional food programs, organics, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, all fall under the miscellaneous title and receive only about 3% of total funding or 6.7 billion.
Although the other titles are relatively small compared to the nutrition title, many elements of the 2023 Farm Bill will directly impact young and BIPOC farmers. Policies that will improve access to farmland, access to capital, climate action, USDA programs, racial equity, are all being debated right now.
To find out more about the farm bill and how all of us can get involved in the process, I called up Billy Hackett, one of our partners at NSAC, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Can you just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do?
Billy: Yeah, sure. My name is Billy Hackett. I work with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. An organization of about 130 members across the United States that represent diversity of American agriculture through our members are connected to small farmers, to mid-sized farmers, beginning farmers other kinds of underserved farmers, including BIPOC farmers, farmers that adopt conservation practices, organic practices, use diversification and similar agro- ecological practices in their farms. So we represent a lot of farmers across the United States, National Young Farmers Coalition is of course one of our member organizations and our intention right.
Our goal, our mission is to represent these voices on Capitol Hill through the federal policy making process.
Jessica: Yeah. And I also wanted to hear just a little bit more about you and why, why is food and farming important to you?
Billy: Yeah, it, it's funny, I never saw myself working necessarily with food and agriculture and so closely with farmers, but when I was in college I learned about organizing that was happening in my home state, Florida.
Specifically immigrant farm workers in southwest Florida. A group called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. I spent a lot of time in Immokalee, it's a small rural community, predominantly farm workers and immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti again, and in southwest Florida where I'm from. And, and it was that organizing that really opened my eyes to the opportunities.
I, I studied policy when I was in college. Political science, all, all the, all the [usual]. But, trying to intersect or marry these interests between recognizing there is an avenue for real change through the policymaking process and recognizing a many folks that need to be at the table are not at that table, including folks again in, in the food and farm working space. And I wanted to be able to marry those and use what I learned, use my skills, grow that skillset to make a difference in this space.
Jessica: So today we're going to be having a conversation about the Farm Bill, the 2023 Farm Bill. And I was wondering if you could just start by maybe giving a very general high level overview of what the Farm Bill is for folks who might not have any exposure to the farm bill or farm policy.
What is the farm bill?
Billy: What is the farm bill? What a question. You know, when we're thinking big it is the vehicle through which the federal government sets incentives and guidance and, you know, otherwise supports the production of food in this country and food security for many folks in this country. For some general context going into 2023, this Farm Bill is projected to cost about $1.4 trillion over the course of 10 years.
About three fourths of that goes towards SNAP, right? Nutrition spending and programs, et cetera. And only about one fourth of that money goes towards production agriculture.
Jessica: I remember learning about that in college that that three quarters of the farm bill funding going to SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and different nutrition programs and only a quarter of it going to, to farm programs is really I think a huge surprise to most folks.
And then that farm money gets divided up right among so many different programs.
Billy: Right. You know, Farm Bill is almost a misnomer in some ways. You know, it's a food and farm bill. Right? At least the way that it's, you know conceived now and the way that we move forward in the process. But you're, you're very right about that money being divvied up in a lot of ways.
Right. Just a quarter of the pie being used for so many different purposes.
Jessica: And what are some of those programs? I know there are many, many titles, but what, what are some of the big farm-related titles In the Farm Bill?
Billy: Great question. There are a lot of titles. There are 12 titles in the Farm Bill in total.
Everything from commodities to miscellaneous, but the the biggest spending of that fourth in production agriculture that goes towards production agriculture is what we call commodity programs and crop insurance, right? So the biggest spending goes towards permanent risk management programs, money to help protect farmers against the many risks of farming, right?
Think about risk to weather, think about risk to pathogen and pest. It's a risky business. However, that money through commodity programs which, as it sounds, goes towards farmers that grow the top major commodities think corn and soybeans in this country. Of course, wheat, cotton, et cetera are the only farmers eligible for those kinds of payments.
And then the crop insurance program, which in theory you know, serves all kinds of farmers through even that program, most small beginning, diversified, organic farmers are left out of the safety net. And so when we're talking about most money that is going to production, agriculture, Most of those subsidies are concentrated in the hands of the largest and wealthiest farms as opposed to many of the farmers that we work with.
Jessica: Yeah. So for the farmers in, in your coalition and in the National Young Farmers Coalition, generally smaller scale, many using sustainable regenerative organic practices, what, what are the areas of the Farm Bill where there's the most opportunity for them to receive some support?
Billy: There are titles on conservation spending, right?
And programs to help and support farmers who wish to adopt conservation practice or continue on their journey to adopt conservation practices. There are programs to support farmers that are growing small scale, direct-to-market, right? Local, regional food system development, infrastructure development, rural development programs. There's a new office of Urban Agriculture.
Many opportunities. All that only exist because farmers and stakeholders in this community have for decades now, been organizing for support from the federal government, specifically to help farmers create these alternative avenues of production. And really, when I say alternative, recognizing that often times these are bastions of traditional ecological knowledge, right? Held by indigenous communities and have been part of farming for so long, even though that isn't necessarily what people think of nowadays in the current iteration of our food system in the US and, and in many senses, other countries around the world, what we think of as the conventional food system or conventional farming.
I don't want to vilify large farmers, right? Because that's not necessarily the issue, right? The issues that there is, well, all farmers are trapped in that system, right? By multinational corporations, right? And monopolies and monopsonies at both ends of the production system, et cetera.
Jessica: Yeah, I mean, we follow that same philosophy.
It's just about, you know, making the programs more accessible and accountable to all farmers to beginning farmers to farmers of color who have been really shut out of farm programs, discriminated against, prevented from participating. It's about improving the system.
Billy: You know, when we're talking about these commodity programs and we're talking about subsidies for the crop insurance program, there are not really effective limits to how much money these farmers can receive from the federal government year to year.
Right? Payments to commodity farmers. There are limits on paper, right? $125,000 or $250,000, if you have a spouse, however, you know, your, your nieces, your nephews, your siblings are all eligible for that money as well, and there's very weak standards about who may be actively engaged in farming and thus able to receive those taxpayer dollars.
And so you can have a relative in New York that's never touched your soil, receive money from the federal government year after year, right? In theory or break up your farm on papers that you receive many individual payments. And so there's strong loopholes that need to be addressed to ensure that there is responsible spending going on in these programs.
And for federal crop insurance, there are no payment limits at all. And so we are talking about right exponentially higher subsidies to the farms with the most acres, right? And with the highest value of production, and again, correlated to the highest household wealth in crop insurance premium subsidies.
And there are opportunities to curb that spending. And in a responsible way, right? If we introduced a cap of just $50,000, right? Where the largest farm could not receive more than $50,000 of a discount on your crop insurance premium year after year, that would impact just about 3% of farms, but it would save 16 something billion dollars in the farm bill.
Jessica: Oh my goodness.
Billy: Right? Wow. We're talking about a lot of money here, and at the end of the day, right, when we're talking about that 1.4 trillion dollar figure. Congress looks at that figure, that is what we call the baseline. And there's no real opportunities to expand that bucket of money. And certainly with the current makeup of the House there, of both of the chambers, there's conversations, right?
How can we reduce spending overall? And so when we're looking at...
Jessica: No new money, right? That's what they're always saying about the farm bill. No new money. So it becomes, it becomes a game of reallocation.
Billy: 100%. And so when you're looking at the different programs that we've been discussing, it's always a conversation of, in order to fund this, right, more conservation spending or in order to fund snap, et cetera.
It's always a question of where are we going to take money? Yeah. And so it becomes a difficult battle. And so we're looking for opportunities, right to curb wasteful spending that is concentrated in the hands of those farmers who arguably need it least, right? And how can we guarantee those farmers are still supported and still doing very well, but also guarantee that farmers who deserve a slice of that pie, right?
And who would really benefit from taxpayer public support and who provide a public benefit in return, right? Through improved soil health, more nutritious foods, reducing greenhouse gases, et cetera. How can those farmers be supported?
Jessica: Hmm. So in addition to that, the kind of reallocation of funds and curbing, wasteful spending, what's one thing that you're feeling maybe excited about as we head into reauthorization this year?
Billy: Sure, sure. You know, a couple of that come to mind, right? The opportunity to double conservation spending, right? And to really guarantee that these programs have resources t o adequately meet the need and the exhibited demand of farmers, right? Farmers are using these programs. Farmers are experiencing benefits from these programs, and thus the public receives benefits from these programs.
How can we bring more farmers into them? Improve access one, but also just guarantee when you apply, you have more than a fourth of a chance to be accepted and be able to enroll in that program. So the opportunity to expand existing voluntary conservation programs is, is huge when we're talking about the potential to amplify climate- smart, climate- friendly agriculture.
And I'm excited about the potential and the opportunity to introduce, again, reasonable payment limits on the largest and wealthiest farm when we're thinking about crop insurance premium subsidies, and we're thinking about commodity program subsidies, right? Because these are fundamentally the programs that incentivize industrial monoculture agriculture production by effectively eliminating the risk that these farmers would otherwise experience.
These farms are inherently, they possess a higher risk profile, right? If you are a big monoculture farm, you are more vulnerable to pathogens. You're more vulnerable to pests. You are more vulnerable to drought. You are due to right, loss of soil health, lack of biodiversity, right? And at the mercy of these chemical inputs, right? And genetically engineered seeds, which are only becoming more and more expensive. And all that together contributing to soil, greater soil erosion, et cetera. Right. But because these programs are so good at supporting these farmers, these farmers experience, no incentive to innovate. They don't need to think about that because they, their risk is...
Jessica: Guaranteed safety net.
Billy: Right. So the opportunity to introduce reasonable limits on, on, on that kind of subsidization is a big opportunity. When we think about climate when we think about land access even. Studies show that this high subsidization of farms, of the largest farms, contributes to rising farm prices, farmland prices, which we know is a key issue that many farmers are facing and experiencing.
And if you can find land on the market right, that is not affordable land. Mm-hmm. And, and some of that is attributable to the escalation of subsidization that we see in rural communities over the last several decades.
Jessica: I was just wondering what is kind of the, the smallest scale farm that would participate in some of these risk management programs? Is there, is there a limit?
Billy: You know, in theory, none would be participating in commodity programs, right? Those are designed for, you know commodity farms and, and very few right small scale farms are really growing the major commodities in the. Would allow you to be eligible for those programs...
Jessica: But like disaster protection or any type of other crop insurance. Does that even exist for small scale diversified farmers?
Billy: In theory it does. Right. You know, federal crop insurance is a tool that in theory should be available to all farmers, not only the largest farms. Right. There's specifically a program, the whole Farm Revenue Protection Program, or the Micro Farm Pilot as an offshoot of that program, which are designed to ensure the revenue of your entire operation and provides a discount on diversification. So if you grow up to seven commodities, you can receive, in theory, a progressive discount on that diversification. And so there is a policy specifically designed for small farms, specifically designed for diverse and organic farms in whole farm revenue protection.
However, in practice, there have been many barriers to the enrollment in that program let alone other insurance policies that really aren't designed for these farmers in mind. There's a really high paperwork burden and, and other challenges that farmers face to be able to access it. As well as disincentives from an agent to sell that particular insurance policy.
It takes more time to write, right, and it takes more time to speak with a farmer and to understand the diverse operation and to understand exactly what kind of coverage they need, as opposed to a crop insurance agent who's, you know, writing a you know, a, a corn and bean policy that they've written a thousand.
Right, and crop insurance agents aren't compensated on the time that it takes to write the policy. Instead, they're compensated on the, the premium, the value of the production, et cetera insured by that farm. But this is also so in the weeds...
Jessica: I'm sorry, I took us into the weeds there.
Billy: No, that's okay. I love the weeds. I, I could do a whole thing on the weeds.
Jessica: I can tell, you know, you know, all the ins and outs of these program.
You know we're getting ready for our fly-in. We're bringing the largest number of, of young farmers to the capitol that we ever have for a big lobby day. And those farmers are gonna be sharing about our top farm bill priorities that we, we put together in the Young Farmer Agenda, which is kind of the, the work of synthesizing the National Young Farmer Survey that we put out last year that surveyed over 10,000 farmers, and we distilled that down into the Young Farmer Agenda.
Issues like access to affordable quality farmland, climate action, access to water, affordable housing, USDA access. These issues really rose to the top as as primary challenges. And, you know, our land campaign, we're really using the Farm Bill as a, a vehicle to try to transition a hundred million acres of land equitably to the next generation.
I'm curious, you know, do, do these issue areas kind of overlap with what you're hearing from your coalition members? Are there other issue areas that you're really going to be you know, fighting hard for next week?
Billy: Of course. Right? That, that overlaps so well with what we're hearing.
One of the big issues is that they are oversubscribed and underfunded, right. Where there's, in theory these opportunities, but most farmers are being turned away when they apply. Right. If they're even able to access that program at all. Mm-hmm. And so that's a big barrier that we hope to address in the next Farm Bill.Right? Can we raise spending for these federal programs, right? And to continue to support this kind of farming that is proven to be more resilient. Right? And for those folks who are so passionate in trying to break into the production of ag, trying to become farmers themselves, how can we enable that pathway right?
When so many folks are, are turned away by the many, many barriers that you could never see coming?
Jessica: Hmm. So is that one of the primary levers as you see? Trying to direct more funding into the, the programs that already exist in this 2023 Farm Bill? Is that where you see the most opportunity to support these issue areas? Or is it, you know, the introduction of new marker bills or, or some other avenue.
Billy: Certainly always, right? New marker bills and ideas to continue to meet the needs of people who aren't being met. So much of what we advocate for is right, just continuing to perfect the programs that we have built over the course of decades, and if only they were better resourced, right?
So that farmers are able to access them, we could be seeing more benefits on a much broader scale. So that is such a major piece of what we work on and and firmly believe in. But of course, when we think about the opportunities to really build a, a food system, a farm system that works for everyone, right?
That works for the people farming, the farm workers picking our food and works for consumers in the grocery store at the market. When we think about all of that, fundamentally, we also need to address the inequitable concentration of benefits that go to the top 10% of farms, not to say right, that these farmers don't deserve subsidization and don't deserve support even though it's a very small percentage of farms. The reality of our present farm system is they also are responsible for most of the production in this country.
However, that is at the expense. Small farms and, and mid-sized farms. Middle America, rural America has seen the impacts of farm consolidation that has accelerated very rapidly in the last 70 years. And desolated again, these rural communities where folks have needed to leave, right? As they were pushed out of farming, pushed out of agriculture in the pursuit of efficiency for the sole purpose of maximizing yields of a few commodity crops as opposed to looking at the production system from a mindset of abundance.
And so fundamentally, yes, we need to continue to support and build up these quote unquote, alternative methods of production and opportunities for farmers. However, we also need to address that inequitable concentration of, of, of power and wealth in order to level the playing field for, for all farmers and ultimately to the benefit of consumers as well.
Jessica: Yeah, so to take a little bit of a, a step back, getting big picture again. I got to work a little bit on the 2018 Farm Bill. So usually the farm bill gets reauthorized every five-ish years. And I think it was in April that some of the first drafts of the bill started getting submitted. And we were actually able to, to reauthorize the bill by the end of that year.
And I'm just curious, from what you know of the timeline this year, do you think that we are going to have a new farm bill in 2023? Or what are, what are some roadblocks that you might anticipate this year in the process?
Billy: It's a great question, right? The farm bill needs to be reauthorized every five years, you know, but I'll say, to start my answer to that question, no one has a crystal ball, least of all me.
Right? However, it, you know, is on track to be passed reauthorized by September 30th of this year. But we will see it, it's not unprecedented for that timeline to be delayed sometimes. Only a couple of months, right? Until the very end of the year. And in the case of the 2012 Farm Bill, that actually became the 2014 Farm Bill.
Right. And it's a simple matter of passing a continuing resolution in Congress to keep funding levels at, at their current levels.
Jessica: What happens if we, when the farm bill gets delayed like that, what, what happens to the programs that rely on that funding?
Billy: Well if, if Congress passes a continuing resolution, nothing fundamentally happens, it just continues to fund existing programs and keep the wheels turning at current levels.
There is a really interesting and archaic mechanism in the Farm Bill, to my understanding where. If no continuing resolution has passed and if no action is taken, if the farm bill was simply to expire, farm policy would revert to farm policy of the 1930s. Oh my God. Which looked very different than it does today. Right? Who knows?
Jessica: An outcome none of us want.
Billy: Right? Who? What kinds of, you know, effects that would have. Right. But that's all theoretical, of course, and that will never happen, at least in terms of allowing the farm bill to expire. But you know, right now we are seeing progress towards that September reauthorization.
I will say that it appears that the Senate, which of course is controlled by Democrat majority, is moving towards the Farm Bill at a more quick, a more rapid pace at the moment, right? Hearings are ongoing. There is a mid-March deadline for members of Congress to submit their priorities to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
And so there's, there's real momentum behind the Farm Bill, right? Moving in the Senate. In the House, it, it seems to be a little bit of a different timeline, delayed a bit, you know, 435 members. It's a bigger space and a different kind of crowd. But of course with the transition of power from a Democrat majority to a Republican majority, right, that, that creates with it a little bit of a runway, right? For folks to get comfortable in their new roles and to really jump into the process. And I think we're seeing a bit. With the new rules of the Republican majority we'll be seeing some new dynamics play out in the House as well that might affect farm bill debates and certainly with one of those negotiations passed.
Right. As part of the deal or, or made as part of the deal to make Kevin McCarthy speaker of the House. My understanding is we're, we're expecting a big fight on raising the debt ceiling right over the next several months, at the beginning of the summer. And so really what I've heard from the House is it, it depends on these different broader dynamic.
But certainly their intention is to move forward. I believe that speaker, Kevin McCarthy has said they're looking forward to a 2023 reauthorization. So at the moment, there's no real need to expect that it'll be delayed, but no one knows. And I'll, I'll just say not everybody is optimistic.
Jessica: Oh gosh. Well, we're, we're trying to stay positive and moving forward as if all will be reauthorized this year.
But as you said, yeah, you never. You never really know what's gonna happen in, in the end, but we, we are excited. You know, we’re bringing our farmers to DC next week and the Rally for Resilience that's happening and all of the other important work that, that our partners are doing in DC right now. It feels like a really opportune time to be having these conversations. Because like you said, with numbers of Congress submitting recommendations to the Ag committees before the end of this month. Does this feel to you like this is one of the really powerful kind of windows of time to, to make our farm bill priorities heard?
Billy: It is, you know, for anyone listening out there, right, you hear it, but truly it's so important to engage in the federal policy making process, and sometimes it can feel daunting, it can feel confusing, but to come to the Capitol or even to pick up the phone and make that phone call right to your member of Congress's office, that matters.
They hear from lobbyists, they hear from advocates, they hear from DC-based folks and stakeholders regularly. Right? But I, the most powerful, the most powerful mobilizing tool that we have is when a constituent, when a farmer, a directly impacted person, shares their story. When you as a farmer, tell them about the challenges that you're facing, right?
Maybe that's access to land. Maybe that's access to credit. Or if you're a consumer talking to them about higher bills in the grocery stores, right? Or higher fees, medical fees, right. And doctor fees due to rising diet-related illness. If you share your story, that really has the potential to grab the attention of a member of Congress and their staff, much more so than one of us in DC who, with whom they're speaking to on the regular.
Jessica: Yeah, that was, that was a big question that I had is, you know, You and, and myself and, and our our Young Farmers staff. You know, we, our theory of change is that mobilizing farmers to share their stories is really how change is made and, you know, but for all of the, whether you're a farmer or just a general supporter or you know, whoever you are, pick up the phone and just call, call your Representative, call your Senator and just share your story. Share the changes that you'd like to see in, in the Farm Bill and like as a constituent that’s something that anyone can do at any time and really kind of affect the, affect the process.
Billy: 100%. 100%. Share your vision, right, for what our food system could look like in ways that'll, yeah… directly impact you or. Well, yes. Community.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah. And we, you know, we at, at Young Farmers, we have different action networks. Like you can, for example, text “land” or text “farmbill” to 40649, and you can sign up for moments when we feel like there's really an opportunity. In Congress to, to make change by either sharing your story or supporting a marker bill or a policy that we're supporting.
And we kind of organize folks in, in that way to act collectively. But I, I kind of, I love the reminder that just anybody at any time can just kind of open up that line with with their member of Congress and ask for the changes they wanna see. And I'm curious at NSAC, do you all, do you have any action networks or do you have any grassroots organizing for, for farmers or general supporters that you wanna ask folks to sign up for?
Billy: Sure, sure. Definitely opportunities to stay in touch with NSAC. We have a weekly newsletter where we send out highlights from the week. Maybe that's funding opportunities. Maybe that's a blog, diving into an analysis of some program and how those funds are being allocated.
Why barriers to access exist. You can sign up for that blog or action alerts when there are specific opportunities to engage, specific bills that need to be advanced, for example, that we're introducing or we're supporting. And you can go to our website at sustainableagriculture.net to sign up for those updates and to stay engaged because as you were saying, right, in general, right, pick up the phone, have those conversations, be a regular, right? Share your voice as often as you can.
But also those targeted opportunities to engage will be coming more frequently over the next several months as 2023 heats up, and as we get closer and closer to the Farm Bill.
Jessica: Great. Well, we can share the link in the show notes for folks to sign up for your newsletter and your action alerts.
And NSAC also has some really great resources on your website. I feel like whenever I am, like, I need a Farm Bill 101 or like, how does that program work? You have so many, so many great articles on your, on your site that folks can, can check out.
Thank you so much, Billy. This was such a helpful, just kind of high-level overview of the Farm Bill and what to expect. And I think for me it was just also such a helpful reminder that no matter who we are, where we are, how much time we have to engage in the process, like, you can, you can do it any day, anywhere. Just pick up the phone. You can call your Member of Congress, you know, whatever, whatever your bandwidth is to participate, there's a way for you to engage in this process and, and the farm bill is so important and affects so many different areas of our food and farm systems. So hopefully folks will leave this conversation feeling as inspired as I do.
Thank you so much.
Billy: Thank you so much, Jessica. It's been a joy.
Jessica: Hey there, it's Jessica again. Billy and I had this conversation back in March, just a few days before our largest ever young farmer fly into Washington DC. Alongside other organizations like NSAC and Heal Food Alliance, 150 farmer-leaders from our Coalition met in the capital to take part in rallies, press conferences, and 159 meetings with their representatives.
Everyone on the hill that week made sure their Members of Congress heard directly from them about what they need and expect from the 2023 Farm bill.
Various farmer voices:[Background noise and chatter] Jesse Schaffer coming from Chicago, Illinois…
Hello, I'm Ashanti Green, owner of Green Legacy Farm in Jacksonville…
I'm Matt Hollenbeck from Hollenbeck Cider Mill…
Jermyn Shannon. I'm from Jacksonville, Florida…
Tim, I'm from Lockhart, Texas…
Tianna Kennedy. I'm here from Star Route Farm…
Manuel Juárez. I am from Laredo, Texas..
and I'm lobbying for land access for young farmers and BIPOC farmers…
We're here to lobby for land access on Capitol Hill…
and I'm a young farmer and this is my first lobby experience…
I'm so excited to be here in DC with the rest of the Young Farmer fellows. So, we just got done meeting with Congressman Henry Cuellar and we each took turns expressing our stories and our experiences as young farmers and discussing possible solutions to the many challenges that we face as farmers who are dealing with issues like climate and land access…
This fly in with the Young Farmers Coalition has been monumental and pivotal for me. Being able to talk to our representatives and share our stories and really nail down how specific investment and priorities for equitable land access in the farm Bill will help me as a farmer. It's been just great…
Hi, my name's David Wilkerson. Lindsay, I'm coming from Chicago. And I'm here to fight for land access. We need more agricultural land for black, indigenous and people of color…
for young farmers, BIPOC farmers, queer farmers, and disinvested communities…
After all, we are the farmers who are gonna be growing food for generations to come.
Jessica: Over the next six episodes, you'll hear from policy makers, non-profit leaders, reporters, scientists, and most importantly, these young farmers themselves, all fighting to make sure that this farm bill does what we need it to.
Like Billy mentioned, there are so many ways that you can take action to make sure that this bill actually serves the next generation of young and BIPOC farmers.
If you're looking to get involved and learn more about what's included in the farm bill visit Young Farmers farm bill page at youngfarmers.org slash 2023 Farm Bill. We have tons of links to really fantastic resources like a zine from La Semilla Food Center, and NSAC’s Farm Bill 101. Also, you can text FarmBill one word to 40649 to join our movement and help advocate for a more equitable 2023 Farm Bill.
Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time for a conversation about the number one barrier standing in the way of young and BIPOC farmers: access to land.