Guest post by Mika Weinstein
Last week the House and Senate Agricultural Committees amended and passed their respective versions of the 2013 Farm Bill. The 2012 Farm Bill, which was never passed into law, had many programs to support young farmers, conservation efforts, and access to healthy food. Because an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill was passed instead, the 2012 Farm Bill was scrapped and many of these programs were removed. This coming week, the Senate will begin debating the 2013 Farm Bill. Now is the time to contact your legislators about your Farm Bill priorities!
First, you want to develop your stance. If you’re not sure where to start, here is the National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition’s policy platform:
- Create jobs and spur economic growth through food and farms.
- Invest in the future of American agriculture.
- Enhance our natural resources and improve agricultural productivity.
- Drive innovation for tomorrow’s farmers and food entrepreneurs.
You can advocate for broad platforms like the ones listed here or for specific initiatives like FSA Credit for Local and Regional Farmers or Microloans for Beginning and Veteran Farmers. For more information on specific amendments, see http://sustainableagriculture.net
Once you have an idea of what you want to say, read these five tips from Chabot College. These will help you write a powerful letter and let your voice be heard.
- Be personal. A mailed handwritten letter is more meaningful and attracts more attention than an email.
- Be concise. One or two paragraphs should do the trick.
- Request specific action. Make a specific request in your letter. Be clear about what you want.
- Be courteous. Rude comments will make you look unprofessional. You can be firm while still being courteous.
- Sign your letters. Include your name, address and telephone number. This ensures that your representative will be able to respond to your concerns.
Find your representative and voice your requests for the 2013 Farm Bill.