Rural Coalition Members and Allies:

Over the next few days, the U.S. Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill will be introduced by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and shortly after its introduction will be marked up and voted on by the Senate Agriculture Committee.  Despite our numerous advocacy efforts, the Senate Agriculture Committee has thus far omitted the 2501 program from receiving any funds in its version of the 2012 Farm Bill.  We must organize quickly to demand that the Senate Agriculture Committee drafts a 2012 Farm Bill that increases economic opportunities for family fishermen, farmers and ranchers, specifically socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers, farmworkers, Indian Tribes and rural communities, while protecting the environment and ensuring proper nutrition for all families and communities.

The 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program is a remarkably successful initiative that came out of the 1990 Farm Bill negotiations.  The Rural Coalition, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, the Rural Advancement Fund, the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, as well as our partners at the 1890s, 1994s and Hispanic Serving Colleges and Universities, and many allied community-based organizations fought to ensure that the 2501 program as well as other equity provisions that provide critical support and opportunities to historically underserved farmers, ranchers and rural communities were developed and passed in the Minority Farmers Rights section of the 1990 Farm Bill.  Over the past two decades, our collaborative efforts have been able to fortify the delivery of USDA programs and services to historically underserved farmers, ranchers and rural communities, through the creation of the Minority Farmers Advisory Committee, the Office of Advocacy and Outreach as well as sweeping equity provisions throughout the Farm Bill.

Outreach focused on socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, with real transparency and accountability, is essential to achieving equity at USDA.  The 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program remains a core partnership between USDA and community-based organizations and minority serving educational institutions that has helped socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers remain on the land and make an honest livelihood.

If you value justice and equity, call your U.S. Senator this week.  It is critical that the Food Justice movement coalesce around this singular program that addresses the structural racism that farmers of color have had to stand up against for decades.  Although many of the USDA class action discrimination lawsuits have been settled, USDA still has the formidable task of uprooting the weeds of discrimination that remain deeply embedded in its institutional culture and program offices.

To contact your two Senators, ask for them by name or state by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

We must speak with one clear voice: The Senate Agriculture Committee must include full funding to continue the important work of the 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers in its initial draft of the 2012 Farm Bill.

Message to each of your Senators: I implore Senator__________________________  to make the 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program a top priority and to ensure that it is funded at no less than $25 million a year in the 2012 Farm Bill.  The 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program is an exemplary program that directly addresses issues of equity and access while creating economic opportunities for historically underserved segments in agriculture.

We further suggest you add examples of how the program is serving producers in your state and why it is important to the communities you serve.









The Rural Coalition/Coalici´┐Żn Rural is an alliance of farmers, farmworkers, indigenous, migrant and working people from the United States, Mexico, Canada and beyond working together toward a new society that values unity, hope, people and the land.