Sign the petition: Support the Food and Farm Bill of Rights

Tell Congress: Invest in Local Farmers, not Giant Agribusinesses.

It's time for a new Food and Farm Bill of Rights -- to ensure that all Americans have access to healthy food grown by local farmers. It means sustainable agriculture that nourishes the land, not poisoning it. And it means supporting the farmers and the farming communities that provide food for all of us.

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Get the details: Read Earl Blumenauer's Food and Farm Bill of Rights

The Farm Bill should reflect and advance our national priorities for nutrition, the health of our environment and our families, and all farmers.

1. American children have a right to good nutrition and education about healthy food.

Making sure that children have access to healthy food at home and at school should be a top priority. Hungry children perform poorly in school and are at greater risk for long-term health problems. We deserve a food and farm policy that nourishes children by giving them greater access to fruits and vegetables, and preparing them for a healthy lifestyle with knowledge of how to grow, prepare, and enjoy nutritious food.

2. Americans have a right to local supplies of fresh, healthy food, not subsidized food that makes them sick.

Too many Americans do not have the option of buying affordable, locally-grown fresh food. Instead, the Farm Bill supports industrial meat production and processed foods that pose problems for human health and the environment. We deserve a food and farm policy that includes programs that deliver healthy food to all communities, regardless of location, class, or economic standing.

3. Americans have a right to a farm policy that protects farms and farmworkers, and supports farmers in accessing and owning land.

In many areas of the country the pressures of sprawl and large agribusiness farming are forcing farmers off of their land. We deserve a food and farm policy that gives farmers the tools they need to protect their land - and our heritage - from development pressures and unfair competition. Our food and farm policy should protect the workers who help produce, harvest, and process food. Immigrants in the agriculture industry, some of the hardest-working and most vulnerable members of our communities, deserve a path to citizenship and strong worker protections.

4. American farmers – especially beginning, underserved, and veteran farmers – have a right to a farm policy that helps to equip, train, and empower them.

Beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers are at a disadvantage in our society, facing significant challenges accessing land, equipment, and water to grow their crops. In many cases, they also lack financial and business training to help them thrive. Our food and farm policy should better support this population by providing opportunities to access land and capital to start and continue to develop their businesses, and provide them with much needed resources and training. We should also help older farmers with succession planning to ensure that farmland and farm practices can be passed between generations.

5. Americans have a right to a farm policy that maximizes innovation and minimizes subsidy by investing in research and marketing.

Our food and farm policy should research dollars to fund innovation in the agricultural sector, particularly in the areas of organics, traditional breeding, and sustainable techniques that can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Farmers face a world where weather systems are becoming increasingly unpredictable, with unusual patterns of precipitation, new pests, and competing land uses. Our food and farm policy should prioritize research to help advance farming practices to adapt to these changes, improve yields, and protect the environment.

6. Americans have a right to a healthy natural environment, and to a farm policy that does not exacerbate climate change.

Virtually every urban area is surrounded by productive farmland that also provides important environmental services - wildlife habitat, carbon sinks, clean water - as well as landscapes and vistas that define our sense of place. These values are threatened not only by direct environmental degradation, but also by climate change. We deserve a food and farm policy that promotes good stewardship of the environment, protecting water quality and quantity and helping ecosystems thrive. Our food and farm policies should reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from animal production, tilling practices, and crop selection, while minimizing energy demands.

7. Farmers, particularly those in rural and small-town America, have a right to adequate infrastructure to farm and sell products in an efficient and community-focused way that promotes economic development.

Many farmers, particularly small and mid-sized farmers, have difficulty accessing the necessary infrastructure to efficiently operate their businesses. We deserve a food and farm policy that maximizes farmers’ access to adequate processing facilities, distribution opportunities, inspection, and storage. These elements are key to the success of diverse and thriving local and regional food systems.

8. Americans have a right to a fiscally responsible food and farm policy.

The current Farm Bill directs spending for $956 billion over ten years. We deserve a food and farm policy that ensures our tax dollars are invested in fiscally sound policies and programs that fit with the priorities of most American farmers and taxpayers. Specifically, programs like crop insurance should be available to protect against catastrophic loss, but not act as a subsidy to a few with guaranteed profit for entirely predictable and foreseen circumstances. Those subsidies should be subject to means testing and payment limits. We should shift funding to sustain programs that support family farmers who provide healthy, sustainable food for communities.

9. Farmers and entrepreneurs have a right to opportunities to improve farm income by accessing emerging markets and adding value to their products.

Programs like the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program help support the competitiveness of farmers and entrepreneurs growing real food, often with special or value-added characteristics. Participation in local aggregation and supply networks and programs can improve farm income, stimulate job growth, and contribute to community and rural economic development, while increasing diversity in consumer food choice. Producers and processors deserve a food and farm policy that supports such products and facilitates access to emerging markets such as organic, farm to school, farmers markets, and more.

10. Farmers who practice humane farming methods and manage their land for biodiversity have a right to equal market access to promote a more humane economy.

Approximately 11 billion animals are raised and killed for meat, eggs, and milk each year in the U.S. Too often, farm animals in industrialized agriculture are seen as commodities and are not provided adequate, humane conditions for growth, transport, and slaughter. Farmers who do choose to practice better animal welfare and environmental stewardship face often face higher production costs. We deserve a food and farm policy that promotes animal welfare for farm animals and wildlife, supporting humane stewardship as the accessible status quo rather than the higher cost alternative.