U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA) have sent a bipartisan letter to House Agriculture Committee leadership requesting the creation of a new Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) program.
The FOTO program, which was included in the Senate version of the Farm Bill, would combine the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (OASDVFR) – also known as the 2501 Program, two existing programs serving our nation’s farmers. The letter reads in part:
“The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is the only program specifically dedicated to training the next generation of producers. The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program has, since 1990, been USDA’s primary tool to ensure our nation’s historically underserved producers gain access to USDA’s credit, commodity, conservation, and other programs and services. With additional demand for program resources from these growing sectors of agriculture and with our overall farm population continuing to age, Congress should scale up, not cut back on, support for our nation’s most underserved communities.” The letter goes on to say, “Permanent and sufficient funding for these critical programs represents a strategic investment in the diverse new generation of farmers and ranchers.”
The letter was cosigned by Representatives Fortenberry (R-NE), Sewell (D-AL), Carbajal (D-CA), Costello (R-PA), Bass (D-CA), Pearce (R-NM), Blumenauer (D-OR), Moore (D-WI), Veasey (D-TX), Costa (D-CA), Sean Maloney (D-NY), Gonzalez (D-TX), DeLauro (D-CT), Kaptur (D-OH), Ryan (D-OH), Rush (D-IL), Pingree (D-ME), Soto (D-FL), Waters (D-CA), Walz (D-MN), Neal (D-MA), Espaillat (D-NY), Panetta (D-CA), McCollum (D-MN), Raskin (D-MD), Pocan (D-WI), Napolitano (D-CA), Welch (D-VT), Tsongas (D-MA), Takano (D-CA), Moulton (D-MA), Lee (D-CA), Price (D-NC), Jayapal (D-WA), Sablan (D-MP), Plaskett (D-VI), Thompson (D-MS), Scott (D-GA), Butterfield (D-NC), Hanabusa (D-HI), McEachin (D-VA), Kilmer (D-WA), Rosen (D-NV), Garamendi (D-CA), Kind (D-WI), Clark (D-MA), Smith (D-WA), Richmond (D-LA), Ellison (D-MN), Evans (D-PA), and Courtney (D-CT).
Over 100 regional and national organizations support this effort. A full list of supporting organizations can be found here.
The full text of the letter is available here.