|Washington, D.C., March, 26, 2010 —“American Farmland Trust supports the Child Nutrition Act—because it represents opportunities to better serve children and farmers. But we must make sure that farmers have support for maintaining the health of farmland, which is a key ingredient in producing healthy food. We must do the right thing on both accounts, to find ways to have healthy kids and healthy farms,” said Jon Scholl, President of American Farmland Trust (AFT).
“The Senate Agriculture Committee has approved a proposal to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act (CNA) with part of the funding being taken from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP),” continued Scholl. “On the one hand this legislation is key to improving the availability of healthy foods in our nation’s schools through such initiatives as the Farm to School program. On the other hand, we must remember that we have no food without farmland, and we must do all that we can to insure that we steward the health of our nation’s farmland, too.”
Scholl noted the support of American Farmland Trust on two letters to the Senate Agriculture Committee this week, the first seeking support for $50 million in mandatory funding for the Farm to School Program, in an amendment sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The program was first authorized in the 2004 Child Nutrition Act. “By investing in farm to school programs, Congress provides an opportunity to feed school children more healthfully by enhancing existing nutrition programs, while at the same time cultivating new markets for farmers and stimulating rural economies,” the letter says.
In the second letter, AFT and its allies note their “deep disappointment” over Chairwoman Lincoln’s (D-AR) proposal to cut the EQIP by over $2.8 billion over the next decade to provide funds for child nutrition school meal programs. It not only “would rob farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners of conservation and environmental stewardship assistance…but would take away well over $2 billion from the farm bill conservation baseline, or nearly half of the widely-lauded conservation increase in the 2008 Farm Bill. This cut clearly violates the carefully negotiated compromise that you supported in the 2008 Farm Bill.”
The group notes that there are other sources of funding outside of farm bill conservation programs “that could be tapped to pay for these needs without taking away from the programs that support farmers and forest landowners in their efforts to provide conservation benefits in addition to food, forest products, and fiber. However, if Farm Bill resources are determined to be the only resort, then fairness demands that the conservation title should not bear the full burden of providing the solution.”
Copies of each letter:
Farm to School
American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and supporting a sustainable future for farms. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT’s national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.