The Farm Bill is a huge piece of legislation that literally shapes the American farm and food landscape. And it’s no small potatoes. In 2008, the Farm Bill appropriated over $284 billion. Most of the money that doesn’t go toward food assistance programs ends up in the pockets of those producing commodity crops, or as Michael Pollan calls them, “building blocks of fast food.”
The Farm Bill, continues Pollan, “isn’t a bill just for farmers. It really should be called a ‘food bill’ because it is the rules for the food system we all eat by, and those rules are really lousy right now. They need to be changed.”
Unfortunately, the 2012 Farm Bill process began on a note that was less transparent than ever before. In October of 2011, the Environmental Working Group coined the term “Secret Farm Bill” to describe the negotiations that took place between the Senate and House Agriculture Committees and the congressional supercommittee. The supercommittee failed to reach a consensus and beginning in early 2012, the Ag Committees began hammering out their versions of the bill in earnest.
Throughout the process, one thing has been clear; the 2012 Farm Bill will require significant cuts. And whether the Democrat-controlled Senate and the GOP-controlled House can agree on a bill before the last one expires in September is anyone’s guess. Stay tuned! (And scroll down to read the latest article at the bottom of the right column.)
Stories in this series:
Did you know that if everyone in the country wanted to eat their daily recommendations of fruit and vegetables we wouldn't have nearly enough? See the big picture of American farming in this infographic.
With the bill on the Senate floor, Mario Batali, Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and nearly 70 other food luminaries have signed a historic letter to Congress.
Rep. Chellie Pingree introduced the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act to make sure small-scale agriculture doesn't get left out of this year's farm bill.
On top of huge cuts to food stamps and big giveaways to Big Ag, the just-passed House farm bill also includes a special provision to protect the biotech industry.
Sustainable food advocates don't like the farm bills drafted by the House or the Senate, but they're pushing Congress to pass a final bill before the current one runs out Sept. 30 anyway.
As lawmakers return from their August recess, and the current farm bill gets dangerously close to expiring, a whole host of sustainable food policies are at risk of disappearing.
When Congress passed a nine-month farm bill extension as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations, it disappointed sustainable food advocates around the country.