Recent Articles About Farm Bill

Over the last few months, most of the presidential candidates have found their way to Bill Couser’s farm in Nevada, Iowa, where he raises more than 5,000 head of cattle, and grows corn and soybeans. Couser says he’s played host to all the Republicans vying for the Oval Office this cycle in the conference room he built at his feedlot specifically for the parade of presidential candidates.

“Carly Fiorina—I was with her yesterday,” Couser told Civil Eats. “I sat with Trump for a couple hours last week.”

But unlike in the lead-up to past Iowa Caususes, when Ben Carson or Ted Cruz arrive at the Couser farm, the candidates’ ears aren’t being bent on food production, land access, or even a specific wishlist for the next Farm Bill. When he’s with the candidates, Couser grills them on ethanol, or fuel made from corn byproduct. Read more

A version of this post previously appeared on Modern Farmer.

Earlier this week the USDA reached out to Modern Farmer asking if Secretary Tom Vilsack, the only member of President Obama’s cabinet that has lasted through both terms in office, could give us a call. He wanted to plug the $17.6 million in grant money that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently made available for organic farming research, as well as a few other things he’s been working on to support the local food movement, or what the USDA often refers to as the “farm-identity preserved” market. But we got to chat about a few other things, too, like Vilsack’s recent trip to Cuba and his views on the GMO labeling debate. Read more

When it comes to the disparities within the food system, the numbers are pretty stark. The 10 largest mega-corporations generate $450 million annually in food sales. These companies’ CEOs earn, on average, 12 times what their workers make. Of those food workers, women of color make less than half of the salaries of their male counterparts and are far more likely to need nutrition assistance than workers in other industries. Black farmers have lost 80 percent of their land since 1920, while large-scale and corporate farms make nearly half the agricultural sales—despite accounting for less than five percent of all farms. Read more

If you’ve ever driven through the middle of the country, where single crops dominate the landscape for miles, you may think that the bulk of our farms grow just a few foods: corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice. Now, it turns out, you were right.

A new study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that U.S. crop diversity is significantly lower today than it was 30 years ago. So while it’s been a commonly held belief that U.S. farms are moving toward monoculture, and away from crop diversity, now there’s solid evidence to support that claim. Read more

At New Orleans’ Recirculating Farms Coalition (RFC), vegetables grow in an intricate system of recirculating aquaculture systems and raised garden beds. Founded in 2009, the nonprofit organization trains urban farmers in both soil-based farming and fish farming—a combination that provides food for the local community.

Now, thanks to a federal grant, RFC has received $500,000 to create a more robust free training program for budding urban farmers, specifically targeting its outreach and support to new farmers in some of the most low-income and underserved communities in New Orleans: Central City, Algiers, New Orleans East, the Seventh Ward, and the Ninth Ward. Read more

After a recent national gathering, delegates discussed their emphatic opposition to federal firearm registration, argued against attempts to address climate change through cap and trade, and decried the so-called “war against Christmas.” Attendees went home with a “lobbyist bible” that defined marriage between a man and woman, called for national voter identification, and demanded the repeal of “Obamacare.” Read more

Update: On May 12, 2015, the Organic Trade Association moved forward to “begin steps to conduct a vote on and implement a research and promotion check-off program for the organic industry.” 

 

Imagine an ad campaign for organic food as ubiquitous as “Got Milk?,” “Pork. The Other White Meat,” and “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.” That’s the idea behind a proposed federal program that would collect money from organic producers and put it in a single pot for promotion and industry research for the whole organics sector. Read more

As comedian John Oliver said last week in his much-watched primer on net neutrality, “If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” Big Ag has known this strategy for years and perhaps no one does it better than the meatpackers and poultry companies—companies like Tyson, Smithfield, and trade organizations like the American Meat Institute and the National Chicken Council. Read more

“This isn’t your father’s Farm Bill.” These were the optimistic words of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, in a statement on her Web site Tuesday, after the Senate voted to finally pass a farm bill. The $1-trillion dollar, five-year bill had been in the works for over two years, prompting food and agriculture companies to spend $150 million in lobbying dollars.

And let’s face it, any movement in Congress feels long overdue and a little relieving these days, simply because it’s just so rare. But does this new bill really represent a radical departure from farm bills past? Not so much. Read more