On November 3rd, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition invited 50 farmers and local food advocates from across the country to Washington DC to meet with their Congressional representatives to advocate for the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. New Hampshire farmer Roger Noonan attended on behalf of the New England Farmers Union and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. Roger runs Middle Branch Farm in New Boston, NH, a sustainable and diversified organic family farm that sells its vegetables locally through a Community Supported Agriculture system. Roger also happens to feed a lot of us here at Stonyfield – we’re lucky to have him deliver our CSA shares right to our office door every Thursday afternoon during the summer and fall.
Britt Lundgren, our Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, caught up with Roger after his trip to DC to learn more about why he went, and about how we can help support the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act.
Britt: Tell us about why you went down to DC to advocate for the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act.
Roger: The demand for local and organic foods has increased faster than any other segment of the economy. Unfortunately Federal Farm Policy does little to address this market demand and continues to disproportionally represent entrenched agricultural interests. I wanted to help the NH Congressional delegation understand that NH farmers are small business owners and that we should not be placed at a competitive disadvantage by federal farm policy. The provisions in the Local, Farms, Food and Jobs Act will bolster the ability of small farms to meet increasing consumer demand.
Britt: What does the bill do?
Roger: The provisions of this bill coupled with the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of sustainable farmers may be the stimulus needed to usher in a new food economy. The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act will improve federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems. It will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing, conservation, production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs and will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct and retail markets. And of utmost importance, this legislation will provide more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, and invest in the local agriculture economy.
Britt: What can people do to show their support for this important piece of legislation?
Roger: Now is a great time to call or email your Senators and Representatives and ask them to co-sponsor this legislation. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has an easy to use form here that you can use to send a message to your representatives in Congress.
While only one or two percent of the population is engaged in farming, 100 % of voters eat.
Concern over our food; its safety, nutrition, the environmental and social impact of our industrial scaled production model is a bipartisan issue. Let them know that food is important to you and you your family and that you support a fair and balanced Federal Farm Bill that does not disadvantage smaller sustainable and organic farms over large farms.
We do not have the money to lobby Congress around the clock, to buy full page ads in major newspapers but we do have a vote. Let them know you care about our food system and that you vote. It’s a sure attention getter.
Join us in supporting the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act – contact your senators and representatives now and ask them to co-sponsor the Act.