As part of the Jewish Farm Bill Working Group – a diverse cross section of Jewish denominational, educational and advocacy organizations inspired by Jewish values to work for just U.S. food and agricultural policies – COEJL supports efforts that promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable stewardship. The 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization is integral for making our agricultural sector and our society more sustainable, and it now has the eyes of the Jewish community upon it.
A Just Farm Bill will:
Promote research on clean, renewable energy sources – but only those that do not negatively impact food staple prices and availability, or the environment.
- Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides financial and technical assistance to farmers for the purchase of renewable energy systems, including solar panels and wind turbines. This successful program increases energy efficiency, rural development, and job creation all at once, and helps farmers to reduce their energy bills. We urge that REAP be reauthorized and strengthened with an increase in funding.
- We strongly encourage increased funding for programs that foster research and production of only those biofuels and biomass energy alternatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and do not hinder food staple prices. These energy alternatives should be derived from sustainable plant and crop wastes that do not harm the soil, or from energy crops (such as switchgrass and willow) grown sustainably on land not suitable for food production.
- Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) enables farmers to grow sustainable energy crops, and store biomass materials. We urge that BCAP be reauthorized and strengthened with an increase in funding.
Strengthen and increase investment in policies that promote conservation and good stewardship of the land.
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provides financial support to farmers who follow conservation practices and ecological techniques that decrease soil erosion, increase water efficiency, and reduce fertilizer use. It is imperative that CSP be robustly reauthorized. Farmers already engaged in such practices should be rewarded with funds, as well as farmers adopting new conservation practices.
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP) provides financial and technical assistance to farmers who engage in conservation practices that improve our precious water, air, soil and wildlife habitat. EQUIP is vital for protecting our natural resources for future generations, and should be reauthorized.
- Double Up Food Bucks, an innovative program from Michigan, accomplishes environmental and social goals simultaneously. It incentivizes SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) purchases of fresh local produce at farmers’ markets, by providing credits to low-income individuals who use their SNAP dollars at farmers’ markets. This program builds local food systems, and improves nutrition for low-income families, by matching access and markets for locally and sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables. We urge the creation and funding of a Farm Bill program modeled on Double Up Food Bucks.
Click here to read the Jewish Platform for a Just Farm Bill.
Press Coverage of the petition delivery:
- New Jersey Jewish News: Jews for a Just Farm Bill
- JTA: Jewish organizations petition U.S. gov’t on food justice
- Western Farm Press: Jewish Groups call for ‘Just Farm Bill’
- AgriMarketing: Jewish Groups Deliver 18,000 Signatures to House, Administration Calling for a “Just Farm Bill”