U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, recently introduced a bill that expands the reach of peer-to-peer networks to help farmers with the challenges such as droughts and floods.
The Farmer to Farmer Education Act would “leverage existing technical assistance resources by supporting farmer-led education networks and build capacity for new ones – particularly for communities that are historically marginalized from existing systems – as a key strategy to increase adoption of conservation practices,” according to the news release from Luján’s office.
The Farmer to Farmer Education Act would “leverage existing technical assistance resources by supporting farmer-led education networks and build capacity for new ones – particularly for communities that are historically marginalized from existing systems – as a key strategy to increase adoption of conservation practices.”
The bill would allow the Natural Resources Conservation Service to enter into cooperative agreements with community-based organizations in states that have identified and built on established and burgeoning peer-to-peer networks. It would also allow NRCS to create new ones.
Luján said the bill would give farmers the information they need to protect their crops and livestock.
“Dating back hundreds of years, farming has a long, storied history in New Mexico. Our communities are filled with farmers who have the knowledge and experience to address the unique challenges of unexpected weather, drought and flooding,” Luján said. “Unfortunately, existing federal resources are suffering from staffing shortages, and additional resources often provide unspecific information. The Farmer to Farmer Education Act is a bipartisan solution that will help strengthen coordination between farmer-to-farmer networks and the USDA and NRCS. Improving this connection will help provide specialized and timely information for farmers, helping protect their crops and livestock.”
Moran said the legislation would help address some of the major issues that farmers and ranchers confront.
“Farmers and ranchers across the country face many conservation challenges, including staffing shortages at NRCS, which limits their access to conservation technical assistance,” Moran said. “This legislation would allow farmer-to-farmer groups to develop cooperative agreements with USDA to share conservation concepts and new practices.”
Tim Fink, American Farmland Trust's policy director, said the legislation would especially benefit minority farmers.
“Increasing farmer-to-farmer education is one of AFT’s key priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill,” Fink said. “Access to sound and trusted information from other farmers is critical to the long-term, successful adoption of conservation practices that help farmers build resilience and keep their operations viable. We applaud Senators Luján and Moran for introducing a bipartisan bill that would build capacity for farmer-to-farmer learning to facilitate long-term conservation practice adoption by farmers and ranchers, including young and Black and Indigenous farmers and other farmers of color. We urge Congress to support inclusion of this legislation in the 2023 Farm Bill.”