an important moment to affect federal food and agriculture policy

May 23rd, 2013 by brooke

The Farm Bill is being debated this week in Congress.  The Farm bill is a huge package of legislation….”a 700-page hodgepodge of laws, regulations, guidelines and payouts covering all manners of U.S. agriculture, conservation and nutrition programs”. -according to Dan Imhoff the author of “Food Fight”.  U.S. ag policy, specifically subsidies and insurance for overproduction of commodity crops, also ends up making a huge impact on agricultural practices and food systems around the world.  I once heard Daniel Imhoff speak at a Food Justice Conference.  I remember him saying that the Farm Bill is a tangled confusing string that seemed only to relate to the farmers of America  (who make up less than one percent of the U.S. population) but that when you tug the string of the Farm Bill it becomes clear that it is attached directly or indirectly to almost every political, economic, health social and environmental issue in the world.   Land-use, air and water pollution, ecosystem management, energy use, food security and insecurity, food prices in the U.S. and abroad, immigration trends,  public health, rural economy,  animal treatment, biological patents and GMO technology and urban farming to name a few.  So its a really good time to weigh in on a really influential package of legislation!

There are some positive and important proposed amendments including one about investing in local community economic development and community food projects!!!  and another that provides funding for research and seed breeding for publicly held non GMO seed varieties.  There are also some  very unfortunate amendments that would decrease spending on food stamp programs, nutrition education and require proof of citizenship to receive food aid.    I called the capitol switchboard this morning and left messages for our California Senators Feinstein and Boxer with their respective Agricultural staffers. But if you are calling from elsewhere ask for your State’s Senators.  Here is a description of the amendments and a script to read if you call in.   It is a power pack of a script that was put together by a cool organization called Live Real. Live Real  is a platform for young people across the US to shape a radically different food system through policy and practice.  A big thanks to them!

photo from the Library of Congress

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