Luján, Moran Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Farmer Coordination & Education
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand the reach of peer-to-peer networks that are already helping farmers manage the many challenges they face. As farmers and ranchers are met daily with unique challenges, including unexpected weather, droughts, and floods, they often turn to colleagues to find the right answer. This bill fills a critical gap in federal programs to support and provide guidance to those networks.
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. Specifically, the bill would authorize the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to enter into cooperative agreements with community-based organizations in each state that are able to identify and build on established and burgeoning peer-to-peer networks, and/or create new ones.
“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,” said Senator Luján, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “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.”
“Farmers and ranchers across the country face many conservation challenges, including staffing shortages at NRCS, which limits their access to conservation technical assistance,” said Senator Moran. “This legislation would allow farmer-to-farmer groups to develop cooperative agreements with USDA to share conservation concepts and new practices.”
“Many farming communities already hold considerable knowledge of how to adapt to the droughts, floods, and other climate events farmers are experiencing across the U.S.,” said Erin Foster West, Policy Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition. “The Farmer to Farmer Education Act will invest in knowledge sharing within those communities so that young farmers can learn from friends and neighbors whom they trust. This investment will fill a gap in conservation technical assistance delivery to ensure information farmers receive is in their own language and relevant to their cultural farming and ranching practices.”
“Increasing farmer-to-farmer education is one of AFT’s key priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill,” said Tim Fink, AFT Policy Director. “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.”