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
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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
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
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
Healthy soils are the foundation of a healthy food system. These soils teem with life: earthworms create water channels as the burrow through the soil, allowing rain to soak in; residues from previous crops help soil retain moisture, suppress weeds, and prevent erosion and runoff; microorganisms help filter contaminates and form the glue that helps keep soil intact; and cover crops—second crops planted to protect and improve soil health during the off-season—deliver natural fertilizer to the soil, prevent erosion, increase biodiversity, and improve water filtration as their roots create pores in the soil. Together, all of this works to create healthier crops. Read more