Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Munchable Soapbox: Old MacDonald had a Farm Bill


I gave you some recipes on Monday, now I'm dishing up some food for thought. This is an interesting time to be interested in food and agriculture in the U.S., and the Farm Bill is up for reauthorization this year. The Farm Bill is the all-inclusive piece of legislation that deals with crop subsidies, supplemental nutrition programs, and conservation measures in agriculture. It is a $284 billion expenditure over five years, with over half the funds going towards food stamps. Every five years, this package comes under the scrutiny of the congressional agriculture committee once again. Well, the National Government's budget crisis seems to have moved the day of reckoning up, with Congress' Super Committee attempting to pare down the bill in hopes of helping to balance the budget.

You can imagine that this news has many squirming in their seats, and weighing in on what should and should not remain in the text. Environmental groups and sustainable agriculture advocates are particularly concerned about what a Republican-led congress might do to conservation programs. American Farmland Trust has released a series of position papers advocating for improved (but not removed) conservation programs and supports for beginning farmers. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is backing the inclusion of a Local and Regional Food Bill and the Beginning Farmer Bill. And the illustrious Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a white paper advocating for more robust nutrition programs and weeding out commodity and biofuel subsidies.

So we wait with baited breath, to see what will happen in the next week or so. In the meantime, take a peak at this great TedX talk and call your member of Congress! 

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