A complete summary of the 3rd Green Granger Summit, held in March 2013, is now available. Also included is our Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act resolution, which we drafted at the Summit, and a link to videos of our speakers. Grangers everywhere: we encourage you to download, print and bring a copy of the Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act resolution to present to your own Grange!
In its current form, commodity producers growing corn and soy — mainly used for high fructose corn syrup, fillers, and animal feed — receive nearly 95% of the Farm Bill’s $41.6 billion payments to growers. Farmers growing the foods that nourish our community receive only about 5%. Renewal of the Farm Bill, currently being debated in Congress (see Farm Bill Status below), provides an opportunity to shift more support to food growers that will in turn significantly reduce childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A decline in diet-related illness could decrease health care spending by hundreds of billions of dollars.
|29 Apr 2013:||Peggy Jillson reports that after passing unanimously at Irving Grange, the LFFJA resolution passed at Lane Pomona with virtually no opposition. Peggy will be taking the resolution to State Session in June.|
|May 1, 2013:||Rockford Grange and Marys River Grange pass the LFFJA resolution|
|May 6, 2013:||Bellview Grange passes the LFFJA resolution|
|May 21, 2013:||Spencer Creek Grange passes the LFFJA resolution|
Current Farm Bill Status and Updates (Congressional):
June 10, 2013 The U.S. Senate passed its version of the farm bill. Lawmakers now have to reconcile it with the version making its way through the House before it becomes a law. The Senate cut $41 billion in direct payments to farmers, but added a lot of that back in the form of crop insurance and disaster relief. Senators reduced the money for food stamps by $4 billion and cut conservation programs by $3.5 billion.
The biggest difference between the Senate and the House bills (and therefore the biggest potential fight) is the size of the cuts to food stamps. Instead of cutting $4 billion, the House has proposed cutting food programs for the poor by $20.5 billion, though some conservative lawmakers are pushing for larger cuts.
It’s true that 80 percent of $955 billion in government spending is a lot of money. But liberals like to point out that food stamps are an extremely effective form of stimulus, and note that the people who get them really need the help. As The Economist put it:
It is also hard to argue that food-stamp recipients are undeserving. About half of them are children, and another 8% are elderly. Only 14% of food-stamp households have incomes above the poverty line; 41% have incomes of half that level or less, and 18% have no income at all. The average participating family has only $101 in savings or valuables.
Although there were many interesting amendments, such as legalizing industrial hemp, protecting honeybees, labeling genetically modified foods, and limiting antibiotic use in livestock, most of these died when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to cut off debate and put the bill to a vote.
June 3, 2013 Senate Amendments to the Farm Bill
|Cantwell #919||(Indian tribes — land and soil conservation programs)||Agreed to: 87-8|
|Sessions #945||(eligibility criteria for agriculture irrigation assistance)||Agreed to by unanimous consent|
|Roberts #948||(SNAP)||Not Agreed to: 40-58|
|Gillibrand #931||(SNAP funding)||Not Agreed to: 26-70|
|Inhofe #960||(repeal SNAP and establish nutrition assistance block program)||Not Agreed to: 36-60|
|Franken #992||(access to grocery delivery for homebound seniors and persons with disabilities)||Agreed to by unanimous consent|
|Vitter #1056||(end food stamp eligibility for convicted violent rapists, pedophiles, and murderers)||Agreed to by unanimous consent|
|Shaheen #925||(Federal sugar program)||Not Agreed to: 45-54|
|Sanders #965||(GMO foods)||Not Agreed to: 45-54|
|Feinstein #923||(crop insurance – tobacco)||Not Agreed to: 44-52 (60 vote threshold)|
|Hagan #1031||(crop insurance fraud)||Agreed to: 94-0|
|Durbin-Coburn #953||(crop insurance premiums)||Agreed to: 59-33|
|Moran #987||(alfalfa)||Agreed to: 72-18|
|Coons #1079||(food aid)||Agreed to by voice vote|
|Leahy #998||(gigabit Internet pilot program)|
May 16, 2013 The House Agriculture Committee late last night voted a new five-year farm bill out of committee by a vote of 36-10. The bill includes a variety of major priorities of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, along with several serious setbacks for farmers, natural resource conservation, and rural development.
In good news, it would restore funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and restore and increase funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. Funding for all three programs is higher in the new House bill than in the bill reported by the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this week.
On many other scores the bill is a major disappointment. Despite its name – The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act – the bill includes no major reforms beyond the preordained elimination of direct payments. It reinvests most of the savings from direct payments back into new commodity and crop insurance subsidies. It increases the per farm commodity subsidy limitation by 92 percent and leaves in place current loopholes that allow individual farms to collect unlimited payments. It places no caps whatsoever on farm insurance subsidies.
May 8, 2013 A bill aimed at helping enact much-needed federal farm policy reform was introduced May 8th in the House by Congressman Earl Blumenauer and 12 other Representatives. The Balancing Food, Farm, and Environment Act would provide full funding for the Department of Agriculture’s oversubscribed conservation programs, which help and reward farmers who take steps to produce food in ways that don’t harm families, farms and environment. Among it’s provisions, the bill would require farmers who receive crop insurance subsidies to adopt basic environmental protections. In addition, the Balancing Act would reform USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Reserve Program to reduce the use of pesticides and unnecessary antibiotics and to provide long-term protection of wetlands and prairies. The bill also encourages greater farmer-to-farmer collaboration by delivering more support to groups of farmers who work together to protect drinking water supplies.
The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs ActThe Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act is important legislation and deserves the backing of your local Grange. This bill will support job creation by improving federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems. The legislation will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs and assist consumers by improving access to nutritious food through direct and retail markets.
For a perspective of what this means right here at home, the majority of farms here in Lane County are small-sized farms (defined as farms with sales of less than $50,000) where 88% of all sales are through direct-to-consumer marketing channels (farmers’ markets, on-farm sales, roadside stands, CSAs, etc.) The remainder of sales are “indirect”, i.e., they are made through intermediated market channels, including grocers, restaurants, and regional distributors. A 2010 food market analysis showed that less that 5% of the $1.2 billion spent annually on food by Lane County consumers is being spent on food produced here. A 1% increase in local food purchasing would result in $11.7 million staying in our local economy, versus going elsewhere. If local food purchases were to increase to 20%, it would equal $300 million in direct and indirect sales for these farms, while the increased economic activity in the food sector would generate an estimated 4,478 new jobs here in Lane County. The folks at the Willamette Farm & Food Coalition estimate that in order to reach this 20%, each household would simply need to redirect $31 of their weekly food budget to local food purchases. Note the emphasis on redirect: It’s not about spending more dollars on food, it’s about choosing food grown close to home.
Bump up the percentage of nutritious home-grown produce you take home by visiting our very own Spencer Creek Community Growers’ Market, where we celebrated the opening of our 4th season on June 1st. Drop by and check us out! The Growers’ Market is open every Saturday from 10AM to 2PM. Choose from soups, salads, muffins and more at the market’s Café le Grange and enjoy a leisurely lunch outdoors, where more often than not we have live music performances. Our list of participating produce and craft vendors is updated weekly.
The Grange is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-sectarian, fraternal organization with its roots in agriculture. Although the Grange was originally an organization of farmers, it has evolved to include people from all walks of life who have a common goal to make our world a better place to live.
The members of the Spencer Creek Grange are your neighbors, and include families who have lived here for generations as well as newcomers to the area. A shared love of agriculture, the natural world, and rural society unites us. Stop by for a meeting…
a friendly welcome awaits you!
Meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month. You are also invited to attend one of our Community Potlucks, an informal gathering during which you’ll have an opportunity to eat scrumptious food, hear presentations given by informative guest speakers and catch up with what’s new in your community. The potlucks take place once every three months and begin at 6:00 p.m.
Activities and Events
The Grange has become the venue for a growing number of fun and informative events. These include the Spencer Creek Community Growers’ Market, our annual Very Berry Pancake Breakfast, our popular Barn Dance series and the unimaginably spookiest Haunted House you’ll ever experience.
We can be reached by Email or you can write to:
Spencer Creek Grange No. 855
PO Box 25425
Eugene, OR 97402
The Spencer Creek Grange Hall is located at 86013 Lorane Highway at the corner of McBeth Road in Eugene. To learn how to get to the Grange, you can use this Google Maps link