Jessy Gill, Policy Specialist
Last week on January 30 and 31, over 50 individuals came from across the country to attend the Third Annual GOAT (Getting Our Act Together) Convening in Washington, DC. The Convening was bookended by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Members Meeting, and the National Family Farm Coalition Board Meeting, providing the opportunity for farmers and leaders in district who have been active in the GOAT Process to extend their DC stay and be a part of the conversation.
The GOAT Process was formed in the beginning of the then-2012 Farm Bill reauthorization process, in the midst of USDA hearings in 2011. At that time, advocates and organizers from the around the country were gathered in Oakland for a food justice conference, where there were informal discussions about the need for a space where farmers, ranchers, community leaders, advocates, activists, and policy experts across issue areas could gather and discuss the Farm Bill reauthorization process, and share information between district and DC actions and needs. GOAT held that space for the last 2+ years during the dysfunctional reauthorization process, and continued to meet weekly to plan, orient, and generate a unified voice as we moved closer to (and sometimes even further away from) a final bill.
The Farm Bill will be signed into law by President Obama on Friday, February 7, after both the House and Senate have passed the conferenced bill. At the Third Annual GOAT Convening, participants once again held the space to assess the Farm Bill, discuss what was gained and lost through the last three year bill process, and decide what actions are needed on policy beyond the Farm Bill. We assessed what we as individuals, organizations, and a collaboration need for a better food and farm system, and decided to establish a collective vision that will guide our 2014 agenda, which GOAT participants are continuing to develop.