“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
After two-and-a-half years of political rough and tumble, Congress is just days away from sending a new comprehensive farm bill to the President for his signature.
At the start of this farm bill campaign, sustainable food and farm advocates set two ambitious, overarching goals: (1) to fund and grow innovative sustainable farm and food programs that build an alternative food system, and (2) to make the necessary reforms to farm subsidies so that we level the playing field in the short term and make much-needed systemic transformation in the longer term.
So, how does the new bill stack up? Read more
After two years and two failed attempts, Congress is on the verge of passing a new (food and) farm bill. The farm bill ultimately is a food bill, and must be concerned with truly supporting those who produce our food, those who eat it, and the land it’s produced on. While the final compromise is not quite as bad as it could’ve been, it will instead be devastating to hundreds of thousands of America’s neediest families and much better for corporations than for independent farmers, the environment or public health. Read more
It’s tough to turn down any invitation to a dinner thrown by the James Beard Foundation (JBF), one of the country’s leading food enthusiast organizations. The events are always carefully sourced meals created by great chefs in a roomful of people who care about a sustainable food system. Read more
Okay, yes, sometimes corn is a vegetable. But most of the time, it’s something else entirely—highly processed corn syrup in a can of soda, for example, or a fast food burger made from a corn-fed cow. Sadly, today the average American is eating too much of those junk foods, and not enough fruits and vegetables. But while the impacts on public health are dramatic (see this recent report on the costs of diet-related heart disease, for example), that’s not the whole story. Read more
When it comes to faith in our democracy, this year has raised some eyebrows. In the case of food and agriculture policy, a disturbing fact emerges: Our democracy is increasingly a façade.
Agribusinesses have been subverting the democratic process from Washington, D.C. to state legislatures across the country to ensure that people know less and less about how their food is produced and distributed. Moreover, they have engaged in a determined effort to obstruct opportunities for citizens and legislators to engage in the democratic process. Consider the following to illustrate the point. Read more
In an audacious move, the Republican-led House passed a Farm Bill without the Nutrition Title. Over 70 percent of the Bill’s currently projected annual expenditures ($70 billion out of over $97 billion) will be moved to a separate nutrition bill. This radical vote is feared by many of my colleagues working on the California Food Policy Council. But they miss the fact that it signals an end to an old alliance that kept change from happening. Without that roadblock, a united food movement may be able to push for farm and food policies that will actually support food justice, rural renewal, human health and community resilience instead of lining the pockets of the nation’s most powerful factory farms and food corporations. Read more
Provisions in the farm bill passed by the Senate this week have set the stage for Big Ag to win a monumental shell game. The hapless victims will be American taxpayers. Read more
The 2013 Farm Bill hangs in the balance in Congress, awaiting a final vote, expected Monday. As Congress continues to struggle to get a new bill passed, farmers, small-scale producers, and advocates working to bring fresh food to the underserved are having to do what they’ve always had to do. Be creative. Read more