MSAWG is a network of organizations working for a system of agriculture that is economically profitable, environmentally sound, family-farm based, and socially just. We are farm, food, rural, religious, and conservation organizations, and individuals who organized in 1988 to interject grassroots sustainable agriculture perspectives into crafting a sustainable agriculture program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the debate over the periodically renewed federal Farm Bill, annual rural and agricultural budget and appropriations decisions, and federal policy and program reform more broadly. MSAWG member groups are based in one of the north-central states or are national organizations with a strong Midwest presence.
Our policy work is developed and implemented by four issues committees. These committees bring together farmers, conservationists, researchers, and others to debate policy issues and develop consensus around policy options. The current four issue committees are:
MSAWG and SAC are highly effective. Some of our accomplishments include:
1. Creating and funding the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), the keystone sustainable agriculture program at USDA; i
2. Increasing federal program funding conservation, through the annual appropriations process, for sustainable agriculture research, alternative marketing, credit, beginning and minority farmer.d
3. Developing the Conservation Security Program, the new stewardship incentives “green payments” program created by the 2002 Farm Bill;e
4. Expanding the Value-Added Development Grant program to include financial support for producer grants for growing and marketing crops and livestock in ways that increase value due to consumer demand for environmentally sound family farm production;e
5. Enacting a national certification cost-share program for organic farmers;
6. Gaining approval for protection against discrimination against sustainable and organic producers within the federal crop insurance programs;
7. Prodding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen and enforce rules for industrial-sized animal factories, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to strengthen its nutrient management policy;h
8. Helping to formulate the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the major conservation cost share program;w
9. Winning a seat at the table for farmers and non-governmental organizations at the State Technical Committees, which help determine conservation program policy at the state level;f
10 Fashioning the Beginning Farmer Down Payment Loan Program and other credit and non-credit programs to help a new generation get started in agriculture;p
11. Pushing for greater attention to agricultural systems research and support for family farms and the environment within federally funded competitive grant research programs;reducing farm commodity program barriers to sustainable practices first through a special program in 1990 and then through general planting flexibility provisions in 1996;m
12. Making conservation buffer practices eligible for the Conservation Reserve Program; a
13. Anddevising the Wetlands Reserve Program, a program that pays farmers for easements to restore and protect agricultural wetlands.More information on MSAWG committees, key issues, 2006 priorities and member organizations.