During August at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition summer meeting, we helped celebrate the coalition’s 25th anniversary. In 1988, the Center for Rural Affairs, and many other family farm and rural organizations, helped create the coalition.
It formed out of a simple desire. The founding groups wanted to work together to have a positive impact on federal agriculture policy to strengthen family farming livelihoods, rural communities, and natural resources.
Over 25 years, much has been accomplished. If you are a farmer or rancher who has benefited from on-farm, sustainable agriculture research, you have this coalition to thank. They (along with others such as Rodale and American Farmland Trust) fought for funding to make the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program happen. NSAC continues to fight for its funding year in and year out.
Another early accomplishment was adding the definition of sustainable agriculture into the 1990 Farm Bill.
Other victories included the Wetland Reserve Program, which provides landowners the opportunity to restore and enhance wetlands. The Conservation Reserve Program buffer initiative helps farmers integrate buffers on their working farmland to prevent soil erosion and improve water quality.
More recent wins include the:
- Value-Added Producer Grants Program, serving small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers in creating high value, niche markets.
- Conservation Stewardship Program, the first ever conservation program designed to reward farmers and ranchers for being good stewards of their working farm and ranch land.
- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, specifically focused on training and mentoring the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
- Farmers Market Promotion Program to support many forms of direct marketing.
There is more to this story, but not enough room to tell it all in this space. No other farm-based coalition has accomplished so much with so little. We are proud to be a part of it. Here’s to another 25 years!
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