Elanor Starmer

Elanor Starmer is the Western Region Director at Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy group, for which she authored the report "Bridging the GAPS: Strategies to Improve Produce Safety, Preserve Farm Diversity and Strengthen Local Food Systems." She is also a regular contributor to the Ethicurean.

Siding with the Bushies?

Why a Bush veto of the farm bill is bad for the food movement (and the world)

My former boss in D.C. once said that if she ever found herself on the same side of an issue as the Bush administration, it was time to go back and look more closely: There must be a hidden agenda. That was the thought that struck me as I contemplated the administration's farm bill veto threat on Friday. I understand the calls from some in the sustainable-ag community to veto the farm bill (and thank Tom Philpott and the comment crew for outlining them). The argument appears to be that, while there were important wins, this farm bill does not include most of the bigger reforms we want, and the community would do better to support a veto and try again anew. I don't happen to agree; some of the reasons why are also outlined in Tom's post and the comments. But I respect the sustainable ag organizations that take this position. It all gets more complicated, though, when these groups find themselves on the same side of the veto issue as the Bush administration, which is not known for caring much about sustainability in any sense of the word. It gets extra-complicated when the phrase "subsidy reform" passes the lips of spokespeople from both the farmers-market complex and the agribusiness-industrial complex. This strange coalition of convenience was highlighted recently in a San Francisco Chronicle article by Carolyn Lochhead: "It is the rarest of moments: President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are on a collision course over a giant farm bill, but it is Bush who is broadly aligned with liberal Bay Area activists pushing for reform, while the San Francisco Democrat is protecting billions of dollars in subsidies ..."

Welcome to the new Grist. Tell us what you think, or if it's your first time learn about us. Grist is celebrating 15 years. ×