Federal Issues



Farm To School Act 2017


Farm to school is a common sense approach to child nutrition that empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.  The USDA supports these types of efforts through their Farm to School Grant Program. This program has supported local, fresh food access in school systems in both NC and SC – recent grant recipients include the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (NC), Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (NC), Beaufort County Schools (NC), Stokes County Schools (NC), School District 5 (Lexington and Richland Counties, SC) and various other agencies and organizations.

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The Federal Budget Process: How The United States Allocates Spending on Federal Programs and Services


The formulation of the federal budget is an annual process that involves Congress, the White House and all federal agencies. Congress does not approve a single budget. “The federal budget” is instead composed of many pieces of legislation. While there is no single federal budget, there is an annual process that sets in motion multiple routes for spending prioritization and authorization. This entire process is often contentious and many factors come into play as Congress determines how it will prioritize government spending for the upcoming year. This year is unique because President Trump has proposed significant and severe spending cuts to most federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and food safety programs implemented by the Food and Drug Administration. There is bipartisan concern about the president’s proposed budget, with many members of Congress worrying that his proposal could harm the country’s farm economy.

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Big Concerns Over USDA Reorganization


In May 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a proposed reorganization of USDA, including plans to eliminate the Undersecretary of Rural Development. This is bad news for local food and rural communities in the Carolinas.

The proposal includes downgrading Rural Development from a core mission area of the agency. This signals a shift away from a decade of increased commitment to regional food systems. How does it do that? Only core mission areas of USDA have an undersecretary advocating for the programs in that portfolio during important meetings that shape the direction and priorities of USDA. Without an advocate in these important meetings, Rural Development will not have the influence it does now.

Furthermore, this move at USDA goes hand in hand with President Trump’s budget proposal divesting from rural economic development and support. Recall that the President’s budget calls for elimination of Rural Development business programs, water and sewer loans, and grants to rural communities to build infrastructure. We are concerned that the USDA reorganization is another piece of an effort to divest from already resource-strapped rural areas.

We need YOUR help if we have any chance of stopping this.

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Food Safety Modernization Act


Passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938. The law includes new regulations for farms that grow fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and for facilities that process food for people to eat. This means it represents some big changes to our food system –FSMA gives the FDA broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods.

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Support Farmer Fair Practices Rules

The Current Situation

March 20, 2017

Take a stand for farmers today! This is the last week to comment on three “Farmer Fair Practice Rules” introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in December. The comment period closes on Friday, March 24.

Ready to make a difference? Download this comment template, edit it to make it your own, and submit it here, here and here (three rule, three comments!). If you need more help submitting your comment, scroll to the bottom of this page for more detailed directions.

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The Organic Program Finalizes Stronger Rules on Animal Welfare

USDA delays implementation of the final rule strengthening animal welfare until at least November 2017.  Read on to learn more.   

USDA published the final rule on January 18, 2017. CFSA is pleased that the final rule does address our comments about pastured livestock. Thank you to the CFSA members who took the time to answer our questions about pasture-based poultry housing as we wrote our comment this summer. You made a difference for farmers across the country! Read the (now -delayed) final rule hereRead CFSA’s comment on the proposed rule here and a side-by-side comparison of the proposed rule and the final rule showing how CFSA’s comments and advocacy succeeded in changing the final rule for the better.

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Farm Bill

 Photo credit: USDA Website 2014

The U.S. farm bill is a comprehensive piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of federal agricultural and food programs.  The farm bill covers most federal government policies related to agriculture in the United States and is typically renewed every five to seven years. Once passed, the farm bill moves into appropriations (a process that determines how much money each farm bill program receives). This happens every year until a new farm bill is written. The current farm bill is set to expire on September 30, 2018.

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