Last month, I wrote that prospects for reforming the Farm Bill were dim. My prior assessment is turning out to be outrageously optimistic.
Typically, passage of the Farm Bill occurs every five years and involves a lengthy process of hearings, constituent meetings, and (sad but true) many a high-priced meal on the tab of some lobbyist or other—followed by detailed negotiations between the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. It has also often been seen as an opportunity to—as one recent action alert put it—change the food system by supporting small farms, investing in rural economies, and “supporting more diversified farming and livestock systems, healthy food access, conservation, and research.”
The next reauthorization was not expected until late in 2012—if not 2013—but through an unexpected turn of events, it may be decided much faster, and with even less input from the good food movement than the last one. Read more
The Senate took a key vote on a high profile deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts Monday, a move that could clear the way for the food safety bill to be considered later this week. Read more
The Child Nutrition Act is up for reauthorization this fall, which means Congress will be debating whether it can afford to provide kids with food that benefits their health. This is a worthwhile time to examine the lunch that Congress eats everyday. Read more
Sadly, the green I’m referring to is the color of money. As Tom Philpott reports, Big Ag is trying to get an agricultural technique known as “chemical no-till” established as a legitimate carbon offset in the Waxman/Markey legislation. There’s only one problem, all the research out there says that chemical no-till doesn’t actually sequester carbon: Read more
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health yesterday approved the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, sending the bill to the full committee for a vote expected next week.
The legislation is set to increase the authority and funding of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and at yesterday’s markup, Democrats agreed to halve the registration fee all food producers (domestic and foreign) would have to pay from the proposed amount of $1,000 to $500. The $1,000 charge, which had been supported by new FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, would have generated an estimated $378 million—money Democratic lawmakers said would go toward increasing plant inspections and other food safety activities. Read more
The Food Safety Enhancement Act is the largest reform to food safety since 1938, and you can have your say in its mark up, right now! Jill Richardson did a great job gathering info on who stands where on this bill. Please have a look, and if you have time to call five reps now (starting with those geographically closest) go for it! The mark-up starts at 10am ET.
Here are the changes to the bill we would like to ask for:
1. Add a provision to the Food Safety Enhancement Act that requires mandatory testing for pathogens and reporting of results.
2. Please take care to ensure that the bill does not harm or over-burden small farms and businesses.
3. Please add Rep. Markey’s Ban Poisonous Additives Act as an amendment to the bill (which would ban BPA in containers).
4. Please vote for the bill!
More info on the representatives involved in the mark-up: Read more