Don't try to cover all of this in your calls with your legislators! Choose one or two points for each issue that you want to focus on.
LOCAL MEAT PRODUCTION & THE PRIME ACT
Lack of inspected slaughterhouses is one of the biggest barriers for small-scale livestock producers. The lack of reasonable access to a slaughterhouse keeps some farmers from selling their meat at all. For many more, the distance they must travel to the slaughterhouse means significantly increased costs, as well as stress on the animal and lost time on the farm --- all of which means less supply and higher prices for consumers.
Current federal law prohibits the sale of meat from "custom" slaughterhouses, which are regulated by the states independently of USDA regulations.
Massie Amendment No. 29, the PRIME Act, would empower states to not only set their own standards for custom slaughterhouses, as they already do, but to allow the sale within their state of custom-slaughtered beef, pork, lamb, and goat to consumers, restaurants, and grocery stores.
Adding Amendment No. 29 to the Farm Bill would open opportunities for small farmers and improve consumer access to locally raised meats.
For decades, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has provided funds to help farmers who choose to implement practices on their farm that promote long-term sustainability. This funding has enabled farmers to help promote healthy soil, water, air, and wildlife habitats that benefit everyone --- and, at the same time, improve the profitability of their operations. CSP covers over 70 million acres across the country and especially benefits family farmers who are invested in sustaining their land's productivity for generations to come.
Another program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has also benefited many farmers in implementing stewardship practices. Unfortunately, it has also been used to provide government subsidies to the largest and most environmentally damaging operations, particularly Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Contrary to the original intent of EQIP, these factory farms have been able to use our tax dollars to build "manure management systems," subsidizing their harmful production practices.
The House Farm Bill eliminates CSP and replaces it with vague "stewardship contracts" inside EQIP. But these "stewardship contracts" retain very little of the important core elements of CSP, such as comprehensive whole farm conservation approaches and the eligibility requirement to reach certain environmental stewardship levels before enrolling. The bill opens "stewardship contracts" to be used by CAFOs.
At the same time, the bill cuts total conservation funding by nearly $1 billion. This means less funding in total, no funding at all for many important conservation measures, and the funding that is provided will more often go to factory farms!
The Kind Amendment No. 36 reinstates the Conservation Stewardship Program.
CHECKOFFS & TAXES on FARMERS
Under federal law, farmers of certain commodities (including pork, eggs, beef, and milk) are required to pay a portion of their sales into Checkoff funds. These mandatory fees are intended to be used to research and promote demand for those products. Campaigns such as "Got Milk?" and "Pork, the other white meat" are paid for by these taxes on farmers. Checkoff programs collect tens of millions of dollars from America's farmers and ranchers every year.
Nothing in the Checkoffs promotes local, organic, or sustainable production. To the contrary, the basic message is that all the foods are interchangeable commodities; conventional CAFO beef, imported beef, and the grass-fed beef from the farmer in your town are all rolled into "Beef, it's what for dinner."
Even worse, the dairy checkoff has used its funds for public ad campaigns and "educational programs" for dieticians that actively oppose raw milk access. It's not just the CDC and FDA working to convince Americans that raw milk is dangerous --- it's also Big Dairy, using our own farmers' money to try to kill their businesses!
Moreover, these funds often wind up in the pockets of industrialized agriculture trade organizations. While they can't use the money directly for lobbying, the funding helps them grow by underwriting their overhead, travel costs, etc. --- and then they are free to use their other funds to lobby against the interests of family farmers, such as by opposing country of origin labeling.
While the best solution would be to make the Checkoffs voluntary, the Brat-Blumenauer Amendment No. 71 is a very important step in reforming these programs. The amendment incorporates the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act, S. 741/ H.R. 1753, to prohibit lobbying, rein in conflicts of interest, and stop anti-competitive activities that harm other commodities and consumers.
It is legal to buy hemp products in the U.S., including hemp protein supplements, hemp clothing, and hemp seeds. It is not possible to get "high" from hemp, nor does it cross-pollinate with marijuana.
Despite these facts, it is currently illegal to grow hemp in most states. A provision in the last Farm Bill has allowed a few states to legalize the production of hemp for academic and research purposes, but it is still classified in the same category as marijuana!
Comer-et al Amendment No. 63 would remove industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, and places it under the USDA's jurisdiction as an agricultural commodity.