Farm Bill Preview: Our list of useful websites
aka Important things to read and important people to know

Note: This information will be incorporated into the upcoming full Catalyst Commons site.

The Farm Bill is a complex piece of legislation involving many different interests. Because of the variety of groups and causes affected by the bill, there are numerous resources to help you navigate specifics.

Here are our top picks.

Educational Sites

Center for Rural Affairs
A great resource for farmers looking to obtain Farm Bill dollars for agriculture or conservation projects. The site also offers detailed analyses of the Farm Bills’ programs, such as direct payments, rural development, conservation, beginning farmer, and research. Newsletter subscriptions are available.

FarmPolicy.com
An aggregator of Ag policy headlines with a focus on the Farm Bill and related news. It pulls information from a wide range of sources and will keep you up-to-date on current policy issues.

Food Research and Action Center
Concise information on 2012’s upcoming Farm Bill. It also has a great Action Center. Newsletter subscriptions are available.

The National Agricultural Law Center (NALC)
Provides every Farm Bill dating back to 1933. It offers a detailed history of Ag policy and is an essential research tool.

United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
Contact information for the Senate committee in charge of passing the bill into law, provided in an effort to maintain transparency in government. You can read about each member of the Senate’s Ag committee or check the committee’s calendar for upcoming hearings.

USDA’s Economic Research Service
The mother lode for specific data. The USDA provides an overwhelming amount of information. Our favorite tools are The Farm Bill Side-By-Side and An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings.

Coalitions and Advocacy Groups

These advocacy and coalition sites are great for targeted information about the bill and how to get into food policy. Some sites in the Educational Sites section also have action centers, but these are our top picks to get involved:

American Farmland Trust (AFT)
Spotlights on strategies for sustainability, local food movements, and farmers practicing restorative production techniques. The site provides everything you need to become a sustainable Ag activist, from Capitol Hill basics to tips for writing to your legislator.

California Food and Justice (CFJC)
In-depth information on the Farm Bill in laymen’s terms. CFJC’s newsletter and timely action alerts are worthy of subscription, even for those living outside of California.

Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC)
Explanations of programs in the Farm Bill related to food security and information on mandatory spending set during the last Farm Bill. This Coalition was founded during the 1996 Farm Bill reauthorization. Sign up for CFSC’s bi-weekly newsletter for policy updates.

Environmental Working Group
User-friendly research and blog articles related to the Farm Bill, food systems, and the environment. EWG is perhaps best known for its groundbreaking, debate-changing farm subsidy database.

Healthy Food Action
A great resource for health care professionals to get information on current policy. The Farm Bill will be one of the focuses on the site throughout 2011 and 2012. Use this site for simplified, easy to understand explanations of what it will take to have better nutrition programs. Sign up for action alerts tailored to those interested in better nutrition programs.

The National Organic Coalition (NOC)
Clear positions papers, policy priorities and action alerts related to organics and sustainable practices. Newsletters are offered to those who have paid membership dues, which supports their work in Washington DC.

Northeast Sustainable Ag Working Group (NSWAG)
Farm Bill’s provisions and how they relate to everyone, even those outside the Northeast region.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
A rich source of Farm Bill information and contains basics on specific Farm Bill programs, grants, in depth studies of food related problems, and more. The site can be difficult to navigate, but its newsletter is among the best.

National Young Farms’ Coalition
The National Young Farmers’ Coalition is surveying young farmers across the county to help shape its newest Farm Bill platform. The group is involved in Washington and its upcoming Farm Bill policy platform will reflect the group’s deep involvement in both American farming and American policy. Sign up for the newsletter to get regular updates on all their work.

Please help improve this resource by sending us your comments and suggestions! Email: kasi@omorganics.org.