Unpalatable Farm Bill

Editorial Staff, FooducateNovember 26, 2011 at 04:24AM

This is a guest blog post by Benzi Ronen, founder & CEO of Farmigo

Anyone interested in the future of agricultural policy in the U.S. has surely been following the progress of the U.S. Farm Bill that is currently making its ways through the halls of Congress. The bill is set to shape U.S. policy on a key industry that touches every corner of daily life. Whether you care about our food system’s impact on human health, its huge impact on our environment, or about the move to a more sustainable system of agriculture, the legislation currently being debated in Washington is set to shape the food on your plate for years to come.

As the debate on the bill has heated up, voices from across the web have addressed what we can expect from the bill, and what this legislation might mean for the future of sustainable agriculture. At the moment, prospects seem mixed for a full and transparent debate about the legislation.

As Tom Laskawy pointed out on a post on Grist, Congress needs to cut billions of dollars from agricultural spending, and yet that doesn’t mean that the flawed subsidy system that supports industrial farms will be reformed in any meaningful way.

“But one thing is certain; negotiators are desperately trying to maintain the annual flow of $18 billion in subsidies to the largest farmers who produce commodity crops like corn, soy, and cotton. And while there will certainly be losers, you can count on the fact that there will also be winners,” Laskawy wrote.

The bill is also being pushed through Congress at an accelerated pace, what Laskawy describes as “warp speed,” casting doubt that Congress is sufficiently addressing how the U.S. can transition to a more sustainable food system. The urgent need for this transition was highlighted in an eye-opening post in the New York Times from Mark Bittman with this startling fact:

“Incredibly, however, we are net importers of fruits and vegetables, foods that our land is capable of growing in abundance and once did. Most of our imports are from Mexico, Chile and Canada, but fresh fruits and especially vegetables are shipped here from all over the world, with significant quantities coming from as far away as India, China and Thailand. And those imports are growing.”

That the U.S., with its rich abundance of arable land, needs to import fruits and vegetables is one of the clearest signs that we need to reorder our food priorities. There are however some signals that leaders in Washington are beginning to take notice of this issue.Agriculture.com noted that recently, a new proposal was laid out that called to “help farmers and ranchers by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs to access growing local and regional food markets.” While this initiative is an important step, there needs to be a much deeper and open debate about these issues. Please add your name to a petition calling for an open debate on the Farm Bill. Our government representatives need to know that the silent majority wants smart legislation that moves us closer to a more sustainable agricultural future.

Benzi Ronen is the founder of Farmigo. The Farmigo team is on a mission is to make fresh locally grown produce available to all households. Benzi believes software is the missing link to create and alternative food system that connects consumers directly with the growers of their food. 

 

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