Michael Pollan on The Farm Bill: New Film From Nourish (VIDEO)

Every five years, we have the chance to influence the way our food is produced, our land is conserved, and our health is protected. The legislation that addresses these issues is known as the Farm Bill, and in 2012, it’s up for renewal. “It isn’t really a bill just for farmers,” says food journalist Michael Pollan, in this video from Nourish Short Films. “It really should be called the food bill because it is the rules for the food system we all eat by.”

The potential to improve our current food policy is currently being challenged by a select group of Senate and House agriculture committees who propose $23 billion in cuts to federal spending on some of the most important programs related to nutrition and the future of small-scale, local, and organic farming. The 2012 Farm Bill could be rewritten as early as November 23. It’s vital that these issues be debated in a public forum, not behind closed doors.

Take Action Today
There is still time to participate in the fight for reform that supports new farmers, provides infrastructure for regional and local food development, and protects our health and precious land.

Here are some ways you can get involved in influencing the 2012 Farm Bill:

Call. Take 30 seconds to call leaders of the House and Senate ag committees and say NO to the “Secret Farm Bill.” Over 27,000 people have done so already using the Food Democracy Now call script. You can also support the development of local and regional farms, farmers, and retail markets by asking your two senators and your representative to co-sponsor the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act.
Meet. To date, there are over 7,000 farmers markets nationwide. Get to know your local farmers. Listen to their stories. Ask them questions about the Farm Bill. The more you understand about the challenges that small-scale farmers face, the larger your role can be in supporting their farms and marketplaces.

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Explore. Find out about programs intended for inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill. Learn about the new Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, which supports novice farmers by creating jobs, affordable farmland, and farmer training programs. Or read about the pre-existing Wetlands Reserve Program, which has improved watershed health and secured protection and restoration for 11,000 private landowners on 2.3 million acres of land over the past 20 years.

Review. Learn a brief history of the Farm Bill to understand key programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which currently represents more than two-thirds of the Farm Bill funding and faces multibillion-dollar cuts.

Originally published on Nourish

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Stacey Slate is the former deputy managing editor of Civil Eats and community manager for the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, CA. She is currently helping to build edibleschoolyard.org, an online network to connect teachers, parents, and advocates of the edible education movement and to encourage them to share best practices and curriculum. Read more >

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