The 2012 Farm Bill: Why You Should Care

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I had been planning to write about the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill but I was somewhat saddened that it did not receive any discussion on the CtS FB Page nor on Twitter. This is an important issue that is going to be hitting the U.S. at a tumultuous political time. We need to start thinking about it and talking about it now.


Farm

 

It’s probably my fault that there wasn’t any discussion though. I don’t think I made it sound very sexy. But then, maybe it’s hard to make a farm bill sound sexy or even vaguely interesting. Really, who cares about a farm bill other than farmers, right?

Well, even the tiniest bit of digging will tell you that we should all care about it. Really care about it. Really really care about it. The Farm Bill is at the heart of almost every food issue in our nation. Check this out:

  • The vast majority of the money in the 2008 Farm Bill goes toward nutrition programs, with most heading to the food stamp program. It is thus essential to the well-being of so many people (and so so very many children) in our country, especially in today’s economic situation.
  • The farm bill determines which farms are subsidized. The vast majority of the subsidy money goes to five crops: corn, wheat, rice, soybean and cotton. The bulk of these crops go into animal feed and into super-processed unhealthy foods. This certainly helps McDonalds but shouldn’t we be helping people grow and eat more fruits and veggies?
  • Some of the most important land and wildlife conservation programs in this country (e.g., Conservation Reserve Program) are funded through the farm bill. We talk sustainability now we need to fund sustainability.
  • A ridiculously small amount of money goes to organic farming at the moment. If we want farmers to convert from chemical-intensive practices to organic growing practices, the 2012 Farm Bill is where it’s at.

So I urge you to find out a bit about the upcoming farm bill.

Watch this video of Ken Cook (where I got most of my info from, by the way):

And read Farm Bill 2012: Time For An Overhaul With Innovative Farming Systems by Joanna Zelman.

And consider contacting your senator or congressman NOW because they’re working on the farm bill as you read this. Do you feel that you need some inspiration first? Read this piece from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition about how the budget cuts required by the Super Committee might wind up reinforcing the agricultural status quo.

There are lobbyists having their say already but I’m afraid that the loudest voices will not be ours: They will not be voices supporting the poor, supporting fresh fruits and vegetables, supporting conservation and sustainable agriculture, or supporting small organic farms.

Read about it. Talk about it. The 2012 Farm Bill may not be sexy but it sure as heck is relevant.

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Check out the other My Opinion Monday posts here.

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Chris from Cook the Story

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(c) 2011 Christine Pittman. All Rights Reserved.

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