everyone’s talking about the farm bill. why? it’s probably the most important legislation in determining what we eat, what that food looks like, and who eats what. this year, the bill proposes $23 billion in cuts to federal spending on crucial programs for maintaining nutrition standards and protecting small-scale, local, farming.
investing in a better food system now cuts billions of dollars of health care costs for diet-related disease in the next ten to fifteen years. assuming of course, that our government will even cover health care costs by then.
but economics aside, what’s needed is a farm bill that takes food and ag to a BETTER place than the status quo– where things are pretty damn bad.
for example, the bill currently proposes to undo NECESSARY school lunch standards that were only recently won earlier this year. so we’d be going back to standards where tomato paste on pizza will count as a vegetable, cafeterias only need to serve one vegetable a day which include fries, tots, or other starchy stuff.
welcome to America in 2011, where tomato paste is a vegetable, and Conagra lobbyists are winning. aren’t you terrified of what 2030 will look like at this pace? good, you should be. watch the motivational video below and contact your representatives about this crazy ass bill pronto.
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.
- 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.