Our Best Farming and Farm Bill Reporting of 2023 | Civil Eats

Our Best Farming and Farm Bill Reporting of 2023

In 2023, Civil Eats reporters covered threats to farms and farmworkers, as well as solutions farmers are employing to combat issues like climate change—with a focus on how the Farm Bill, which was up for reauthorization this year, could be an effective lever for change.

Farmer Caiti Hachmyer plants dry corn at Red-H Farm in Sebastopol, California. (Photo credit: Brooke Porter Photography)

Farmer Caiti Hachmyer plants dry corn at Red-H Farm in Sebastopol, California. (Photo credit: Brooke Porter Photography)

Telling stories about the land is at the core of what we do at Civil Eats. And over the last year, we’ve covered farming from many angles, from threats to farms and farmworkers—including from the herbicide paraquat, PFAS forever chemicals, and drought-induced air pollution—to ways farmers are improving their soil health and reducing their carbon footprints.

Because the 2018 Farm Bill was due for reauthorization in September—until lawmakers extended it for another year—we committed substantial resources to covering the trillion-dollar legislative package this year. We looked into how the next farm bill could best tackle some of the biggest problems related to food and ag, from climate change to food insecurity.

As part of that effort, we published an ongoing series entitled Faces of the Farm Bill, which is designed to humanize the impacts of ag policy by spotlighting people whose lives have been shaped by the farm bill—from those reliant on nutrition assistance to Indigenous farmers, BIPOC farmers, and other historically marginalized folks and their advocates. Here are some of our best farming and farm bill reporting this year.

Paraquat, the Deadliest Chemical in US Agriculture, Goes on Trial
Amid lawsuits filed by thousands of farmers linking the herbicide to Parkinson’s disease, the EPA is reconsidering its analysis of paraquat’s risks.

Farm Credit Can Make or Break Farms. Should It Be More Equitable?
The biggest lender in American farming is in the spotlight for resisting a requirement to report the demographic details of its loan recipients.

Oat crops, with a combine in the background. (Photo credit: Amy Mayer)

(Photo credit: Amy Mayer)

Bringing Oats Back to American Farms
Adding oats to a farm’s rotation can improve soil health and reduce fossil fuels, but the crop has all but disappeared in the U.S. Now, a nascent movement fueled by oat milk’s popularity may help reverse the trend.

Some Farmers Are Skipping Tomatoes and Eggplants. Their Reasons May Surprise You.
From climate risks to better work-life balance, a small but growing contingent of farmers is giving up summer crops to reap winter’s harvest.

As the Salton Sea Shrinks, Agriculture’s Legacy Turns to Dust
As drought dries up the shallow sea, near a half-million farmable acres in the Imperial Valley, farmworkers living nearby are exposed to toxic dust and airborne pollution from algae blooms. Asthma, allergies, and other health impacts are rising at alarming rates.

(Photo credit: Leia Marasovich, Farmer’s Footprint)

This Network of Regenerative Farmers Is Rethinking Chicken
The team at Tree-Range Farms is pioneering an approach to raising chickens and trees in tandem, storing more carbon and water in the soil while providing an entry point for new and BIPOC farmers often left out of the conventional system.

This Oregon Farmer Is Building a New Model for Indigenous Food and Agriculture
At Sakari Farms, Spring Alaska Schreiner maintains a seed bank, has launched a community kitchen, and teaches Native American youth traditional ecological knowledge.

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PFAS Shut Maine Farms Down. Now, Some Are Rebounding.
In the aftermath of state testing that revealed dangerous levels of forever chemicals on some Maine farms in 2021, organizations, farmers, and Indigenous communities are creating blueprints for recovery.

Can Point Reyes National Seashore Support Wildlife and Ranching Amid Climate Change? 
The National Park Service is working with a local tribe to determine how to safeguard the tule elk, which compete with cattle for forage in the dry season. A recent proposal to remove a fence has ranchers and dairy owners up in arms.

The Farm Bill

This Farm Bill Really Matters. We Explain Why.
As communities struggle with food insecurity and farmers face a range of climate-fueled disasters, lawmakers have a chance to build a farm bill that tackles both in 2023. Will they?

Wendy Johnson at Jóia Food Farm in Charles City, Iowa (Photo credit: Tom Rafalovich (left) and Wendy Johnson (right).

(Photo credit: Tom Rafalovich (left) and Wendy Johnson (right).

Op-ed: We Need a New Farm Bill—for My Iowa Farm and Beyond
Wendy Johnson has spent more than a decade building diversity on her Iowa farm, despite financial and cultural pressure to stick to the status quo. Now, she’s pushing for system change.

Climate Change Is Walloping US Farms. Can This Farm Bill Create Real Solutions?
Although it seems like everyone in D.C. is buzzing about a “climate farm bill,” some of the most impactful changes, including crop diversification and shifting diets from meat toward plants, are barely on the negotiating table.

This Farm Bill Could Reshape the Food System. Here Are 10 Proposals at the Center of the Fight.
In this week’s Field Report, an update on how lawmakers are gearing up for a food-and-ag sprint when they return to D.C. in September. Plus: A smaller-than-expected Gulf of Mexico dead zone, and updates on the Better Chicken Commitment.

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Faces of the Farm Bill

A girl pays for her mother's groceries using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) tokens at the GrowNYC Greenmarket in New York City's Union Square. (Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Former SNAP Recipient Calls For Expanded Benefits in Next Farm Bill
In our new Faces of the Farm Bill series, anti-hunger advocate Esperanza Fonseca explains why she wants a farm bill that centers the nutritional needs of all low-income and marginalized Americans.

Farm Bill Funding for Indigenous Food Producers Needs a Boost
Skya Ducheneaux, a lender focused on growing Native food businesses, explains why unequal funding opportunities are harming Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Vero Mazariegos-Anastassiou standing on her small farm in central California. (Photo courtesy of Vero Mazariegos-Anastassiou)

(Photo courtesy of Vero Mazariegos-Anastassiou)

​​Why BIPOC Farmers Need More Protection From Climate Change
Farmer Veronica Mazariegos-Anastassiou of Brisa Ranch in Pescadero, California, has felt the impacts of wildfires, droughts, and floods over the last few years. But the small-scale organic farm has received no federal support to help it recover.

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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