2017 US Budget: Good for Sustainable Farming, Bad For Food Safety

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The federal omnibus package for 2017 will keep the wheels flowing at least until the end of September. Here’s what it means for food. Especially sustainable agriculture, school lunches, food safety, energy, various farmers, and more!

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Conservation and Energy

The Rural Energy for America Program– which provides renewable energy grants to local farmers– won’t see any cuts. And the Conservation Stewardship Program won’t see any cuts either. The CSP is an important program that works to improve water and soil quality and tackle climate change.

Other than that, things don’t look so great for clean energy. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program– which financially helps producers with soil, water, and resource quality– sees a whopping 11% cut. Since the Regional Conservation Partnership Program falls under the authority of the EQIP, that program gets gutted as well.

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On-Farm Research and Food Safety

Okay so here’s all the good news… The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program gets a 9% increase. The SARE program focuses on farmer-driven research to promote proper sustainability practices. So more money means better assistance for local farmers.

The budget also increases funding for National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service aka ATTRA. Which helps train veterans interested in farming careers.  Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), a competitive grant program that focuses on sustainable breeding practices. The Organic Transitions Program isn’t getting a raise, but it isn’t getting slashed either.

But here’s where it gets messy… Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP) won’t be getting a raise. This program is important because it helps small farms and producers meet standards in order to comply with the (now mandatory) Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). So many small and mid size farms might get screwed over in the future– through no real fault of their own.

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Rural Development and Farm Loans

There is a significant increase for the Guaranteed and Direct Operating loans as well as for Guaranteed Farm Ownership loans. Which as you can guess, helps get new farming businesses off-the-ground.

The Rural Development section also won some funding. This is an important program that helps provide vital produce and healthy food to food deserts.

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