The Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a national alliance of grassroots family farm, rural, and conservation organizations from across the country that together advocate for federal policies and programs supporting the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. The national alliance of grassroots groups take common positions on critical federal food and agriculture policy issues and provides financial support for collective representation before Congress and federal administrative agencies. SAC was established in 1988 and has been deeply involved in policy education, consensus building, and policy option development since that time. SAC’s positions are based on extensive grassroots input from sustainable and organic farmers and ranchers and from private non-profit organizations working directly with farmers. SAC policy is developed through participatory issue committees that involve SAC member organizations as well as other national and regional sustainable agriculture networks and organizations. Groups interested in joining should contact Aimee Witteman.
SAC members must:Have a major commitment to sustainable agriculture.Work directly with farmers or ranchers. Be in substantial agreement with SAC positions. Distribute and respond to grassroots alerts, if not prohibited by the organizations. Pay a yearly membership fee. Participate in occasional decion-making meetings, calls, and other communication.
SAC member organizations should be willing to invest time and effort in policy development and advocacy, including in particular mobilization of members or constituents on key action items. However, member groups do not necessarily need to have a major focus on policy and have designated policy staff. One of the great benefits of being involved with SAC is being able to share experiences and expertise.
SAC is highly effective. Some of our accomplishments include: Creating and funding the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), the keystone sustainable agriculture program at USDA;
Increasing federal program funding conservation, through the annual appropriations process, for sustainable agriculture research, alternative marketing, credit, beginning and minority farmer.Developing the Conservation Security Program, the new stewardship incentives “green payments” program created by the 2002 Farm Bill;
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;
1. Enacting a national certification cost-share program for organic farmers;
2. Gaining approval for protection against discrimination against sustainable and organic producers within the federal crop insurance programs;
3. Prodding EPA to strengthen and enforce rules for industrial-sized animal factories, and USDA to strengthen its nutrient management policy;
4. Helping to formulate the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the major conservation cost share program;
5. 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;
6. Fashioning the Beginning Farmer Down Payment Loan Program and other credit and non-credit programs to help a new generation get started in agriculture;
7. Pushing for greater attention to agricultural systems research and support for family farms and the environment within federally funded competitive grant research programs;
8. Reducing farm commodity program barriers to sustainable practices first through a special program in 1990 and then through general planting flexibility provisions in 1996;
Making conservation buffer practices eligible for the Conservation Reserve Program; and Devising the Wetlands Reserve Program, a program that pays farmers for easements to restore and protect agricultural wetlands.Read about SAC’s 2007 priorities.