Congressman Sanford Bishop

Representing the 2nd District of Georgia

BISHOP, LUJÁN LEAD EFFORT TO SUPPORT BEGINNING, VETERAN, AND SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED FARMERS AND RANCHERS

Sep 6, 2018
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) and Congressman Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) co-led a letter, sent yesterday, from 53 Members of Congress to the Farm Bill conferees in support of the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program. This proposed program, which is currently included in the Senate version of the Farm Bill, would merge the authorizations of the Beginning Farmer and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP) and the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (OASDVFR).
 
As the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Congressman Bishop has long supported beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers. The average age of farmers and producers in the U.S. is 60 years of age. The proposed Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program will ensure the next generation of farmers, and anyone seeking a career in agriculture, has the resources they need to be successful.
 
The Members wrote in their letter:
 
As Members of Congress with numerous minority, veteran, and beginning farmers in our districts, we support the new authority in Section 12301 of the Senate bill as a prudent, efficient approach to merge the authorization of the Beginning Farmer and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP) and the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (OASDVFR). 
 
The BFRDP and the OASDVFR are complementary programs, and merging their authorities under the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program will streamline program delivery. Additionally, the proposed language authorizes $50 million annually through 2023 for the combined program. This funding is vital for the long-term investment in our farms and the farmers and ranchers dedicated to their care and production.
 
The Members continued in the letter:
 
USDA’s new authorities better link two deeply complementary programs that together provide an effective mix of education and training to new entry producers, and direct technical assistance to historically underserved producers. These programs support new entry and historically underserved producers through the community-based organizations, tribes and educational institutions best equipped to reach and serve these communities.
 
The letter was cosigned by Representatives Fortenberry (R-NE), Sewell (D-AL), Carbajal (D-CA), Costello (R-PA), Bass (D-CA), Pearce (R-NM), Blumenauer (D-OR), Moore (D-WI), Veasey (D-TX), Costa (D-CA), Sean Maloney (D-NY), Gonzalez (D-TX), DeLauro (D-CT), Kaptur (D-OH), Ryan (D-OH), Rush (D-IL), Pingree (D-ME), Soto (D-FL), Waters (D-CA), Walz (D-MN), Neal (D-MA), Espaillat (D-NY), Panetta (D-CA), McCollum (D-MN), Raskin (D-MD), Pocan (D-WI), Napolitano (D-CA), Welch (D-VT), Tsongas (D-MA), Takano (D-CA), Moulton (D-MA), Lee (D-CA), Price (D-NC), Jayapal (D-WA), Sablan (D-MP), Plaskett (D-VI), Thompson (D-MS), Scott (D-GA), Butterfield (D-NC), Hanabusa (D-HI), McEachin (D-VA), Kilmer (D-WA), Rosen (D-NV), Garamendi (D-CA), Kind (D-WI), Clark (D-MA), Smith (D-WA), Richmond (D-LA), Ellison (D-MN), Evans (D-PA), and Courtney (D-CT).
 
Text of the letter can be found here. A list of organizations supporting the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program can be found here.
 
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September 5, 2018
 
Dear Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson:
 
As the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee undertakes its duty to ensure that all of our nation’s farmers and ranchers are fully equipped for the increasing challenges of food production and safety, risk management, conservation, marketing, and trade, we urge you to invest in the future of agriculture as the key economic engine for rural communities.  To ensure a sustainable future for our agricultural economy and food system, we need more farmers and ranchers throughout our nation. The growing populations of minority, tribal, veteran, and beginning farmers and ranchers stand ready to catalyze this agricultural future.
 
As Members of Congress with numerous minority, veteran, and beginning farmers in our districts, we support the new authority in Section 12301 of the Senate bill as a prudent, efficient approach to merge the authorization of the Beginning Farmer and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP) and the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (OASDVFR).  We urge the committee to adopt Section 12301 of the Senate bill as a substitute to Sections 7507 and 11201 of the House Bill.
 
While we are pleased that both the House- and Senate-passed bills include mandatory funding for these programs, only the Senate-passed Farm Bill does so in a way that provides certainty by establishing permanent baseline funding. Section 12301 of the Senate-passed bill combines the two programs into a new Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program with permanent authority funding of $50 million per year, split evenly between the two program components. Adoption of this provision in the final Farm Bill package would also provide agency authority to streamline program delivery, improve responsiveness to stakeholders and emerging industry trends, and, most importantly, assure long-term investment to ensure that these farmers and ranchers have access to the resources they need to build successful and viable farms.
 
BFRDP is the only program specifically dedicated to training the next generation of producers.  OASDVFR has since 1990 been USDA’s primary tool to assure our nation’s historically underserved producers gain access to USDA’s credit, commodity, conservation, and other programs and services. It was expanded in 2014 to also serve military veterans. With additional demand for program resources from these growing sectors of agriculture and with our overall farm population continuing to age, Congress should scale up, not cut back on, support for our nation’s most underserved communities.
 
USDA’s new authorities better link two deeply complementary programs that together provide an effective mix of education and training to new entry producers, and direct technical assistance to historically underserved producers. These programs support new entry and historically underserved producers through the community-based organizations, tribes and educational institutions best equipped to reach and serve these communities. USDA’s new authorities better connect both programs to relevant advisory committees based in the Office of Advocacy and Outreach and assure better operation of the programs. Permanent and sufficient funding for these critical programs represents a strategic investment in the diverse new generation of farmers and ranchers best positioned to expand economic development opportunities in rural, urban, and tribal communities, advance intergenerational land transfer, and promote familial and community wealth in thousands of rural and urban communities that would most benefit.
 
We look forward to working with conference committee to ensure these important changes are included in the final bill.
 
Sincerely,
 
__________________________                               ___________________________
Ben Ray Luján                                                           Sanford Bishop
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress
 
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