Fresh Ideas for Farm and Food Policy

Published online: Jan 29, 2007 Environmental Defense News Release
Washington, DC- On the eve of the Farm Bill proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Defense proposed a dozen "Fresh Ideas" for federal farm and food policy that would help more farmers, consumers, communities and the environment. Among the national environmental group's proposals are: a major increase in USDA incentives to improve water quality and stabilize the climate, a transition from subsidies to income stabilization accounts, and more USDA resources to combat sprawl and to develop renewable energy on farms and ranchland. Specifically, Environmental Defense's dozen "Fresh Ideas" proposals include: 1) Farm policies dramatically increase USDA incentives to improve the stewardship of working lands, protect 10 millions acres of farm and ranchland from sprawl, and provide 20 percent of working lands funds to groups of producers meeting local environmental challenges through "cooperative conservation" agreements. 2) Farm policies dramatically expand USDA grants and loans for renewable energy production on agricultural lands and link UDSA energy investments to an index of environmental benefits. 3) Farm subsidies are gradually replaced with a system of farm income stabilization accounts linked to farm sales and stewardship that would be available to most producers. 4) Farm policies help farmers get ready for a cap on carbon emissions by supporting initiatives to measure and reduce on-farm emissions and carbon sequestration. 5) Farm policies help farmers make the transition to organic food production and expand programs to promote healthy food choices, such as farm-to-school initiatives. 6) Farm policies accelerate efforts to restore lost wetlands, floodplains and grasslands by focusing land retirement programs on environmentally sensitive lands. 7) Farm policies cultivate a new generation of stewards by providing grants and loans to new farmers, including new farm workers becoming farm owners and operators, in exchange for a commitment to good stewardship.