3 Things to Fight For in the Farm Bill

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Article by The Upstart University Team

The Farm Bill is moving in Congress and could impact your farm.

As you may have learned in our previous post, Congress typically rewrites the Farm Bill every five years and is currently in the process of writing a new Farm Bill with the goal of passing it by the end of September. The next two and a half weeks are a critical time for farmers who want to inform the decisions made around this bill.

So what’s in it for you?

Each Farm Bill contains resources for farmers of all kinds, but the current bill presents unique opportunities for indoor farmers.

Several members of Congress have proposed that the new Farm Bill include policies and programs that could benefit your indoor farm. Read on for three potential inclusions that could impact your business.

 

1) A USDA office focused on indoor agriculture and other emerging food and ag technologies

One proposed change in the Farm Bill is to create a new office and advisory committee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will be focused specifically on helping those using new and emerging food and ag technologies navigate USDA loan, grant and technical assistance programs, connect with experts, and share best practices. The advisory committee will include producers using emerging technologies to grow food, like indoor farmers.

 

2) Expanded eligibility for renewable energy loans & grants

In a recent survey of Upstart University members, all respondents agreed that they plan on investing in energy efficient equipment of some kind:

  • 56% plan on investing in energy efficient lighting
  • 39% plan on investing in energy efficient cooling systems
  • 36% plan on investing in energy efficient pumps
2018 farm bill - energy efficiency

Which of the following systems do you plan to invest in over the next year?

Proposed updates to an existing Farm Bill program called the Rural Energy for America Program could benefit indoor farmers who want to use energy efficient equipment. This update to the program would make certain indoor farmers eligible to apply for direct loan guarantees and grants to support renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades.

 

3) Boosted indoor agriculture research

Another proposed change to the Farm Bill directs USDA to focus on indoor agriculture production in public agricultural research, education and extension activities. While current public research activities do benefit indoor agriculture, this expanded focus will create new opportunities to test ideas and techniques that will lead to more productive agriculture.

 

Help Get a Farm Bill That Supports Indoor Agriculture

One of the most important things you can do is to call your Member of Congress and urge them to support a Farm Bill that includes policies and programs that could benefit indoor agriculture.

When you call, make sure to tell them that you live in their District and that you own or operate an indoor farming business that is contributing to your state’s agriculture industry.

Here’s what to ask for in the Farm Bill:

  • An office and advisory committee at USDA focused on indoor agriculture and other emerging food and ag technologies
  • Updating the Rural Energy for America Program, an existing Farm Bill program, to allow certain indoor farmers to be eligible to apply for direct loans and grants for new equipment
  • Including indoor agriculture production in public research, education and extension activities

Visit www.house.gov to locate contact information for your Member of Congress. Be sure to make your calls before September 30.

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