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Fighting for Young Farmers: Lindsey Lusher Shute

As Executive Director and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), Lindsey Lusher Shute has united thousands of farmer-activists and supporters from all 50 states. NYFC is now in its fifth year of advocating for beginning farmers, helping them overcome significant hurdles.

Shute has a history of agricultural action: Before starting NYFC, she transformed an abandoned lot in Brooklyn into a flourishing community garden. Along with running the Coalition, she and her husband, Ben, are raising two daughters while farming 25 acres of vegetables and managing a flock of laying hens and a dozen pigs on Hearty Roots Community Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. We talked with Shute about her work. Read more

Farm Bill 2014: Business as Usual for Big Agriculture

“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

On the Verge of a New Food and Farm Bill

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

On the Front Burner: CA Food & Farming Legislative Action

On January 8, 2014, the growing food movement achieved an important milestone. The California Food Policy Council (CAFPC) released its first report to evaluate California’s legislative record related to food and farms. It is the first state-policy-focused analysis of legislative votes in the nation. This action in California is sure to be followed by similar action throughout the nation. The timing is excellent because I believe 2014 will see even more progress in the intensifying struggle over the future of our nation’s food and farms. Read more

Farm Bill Wish List: More Veggies, Less Corn

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

Farm Bill Conservation Programs Can Do More to Clean Up California’s Water

Hundreds of millions of conservation dollars in the federal farm bill should be used more effectively to address widespread water pollution problems in California, concludes a new report released today by Environmental Working Group (EWG). Too much money is going to install micro-irrigation systems and build facilities to manage and treat the millions of tons of animal waste generated by dairies and cattle feedlots. Too little is going to support high-impact ecological farming practices such as cover cropping, nutrient management, filter strips and conservation tillage. Read more

For Better Or Worse, A Farm Bill Conclusion

At long last, the Farm Bill race of 2012 is over.

The past week has been a flurry of activity in Congress, as the looming fiscal cliff spurred Washington to action.  Despite the public attention on the Farm Bill over the past year, the conclusion to the long drama came not in a fiery showdown but instead slipped – barely noticed – in to the end-of-year fiscal fight.  The bill that passed the House on Tuesday night had tucked into it a nine-month Farm Bill extension that pushed the debate off until later this in 2013. Read more

Farm Bill Expiration Puts Forward-Thinking Food Policy at Risk

As of this week, our nation’s food and farm policy in the form of the 2008 Farm Bill has officially expired, with no workable replacement. There are many who see this as a better course of events than the passage of one of the new, admittedly imperfect, bills passed by the Senate and proposed in the House.  Others view congressional inaction as no big deal.

We beg to differ.  Read more