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:
A group of young farmers visiting Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office in Maine.Across the U.S., young people are heeding the call for a more just, sustainable, and healthy food system, and are heading to the fields to build it themselves. They …
Kansas wheat.Photo: Brian McGuirkMy father farmed in Kansas and envied those lucky farmers in the wetter states to the east of us, who could grow 200-bushel corn and other lucrative crops like soy beans and sugar beets. He had to …
The Environmental Working Group says climate change activists should be concerned about proposed cuts to farm bill conservation programs, which would be the carbon-emissions equivalent of adding 2 million cars a year to America's roads.
The Secret Farm Bill process is long over and the Senate Ag Committee has scheduled its first round of Farm Bill hearings. So where should the sustainable food community put its attention now?
Record-high crop prices have all the big farms in the Midwest planting up a storm while farm state politicians plan to trim conservation programs. Put them together and what do you get? A Big Ag bubble.
Is crop insurance just another way to say "handouts for Big Ag"? Or is it an excuse to send taxpayer dollars to overseas insurance giants? Our sources say it's both.
If Congress can't pass a new farm bill by September, farm policy will default to a 1949 version of the bill that was constructed for a very different America.
Daniel Imhoff, the man who literally wrote the book on food policy, talks about democracy, debate, and why we should feel thankful for the farm bill, even in depressing years like this one.
For food reformers, little has changed since the "Secret Farm Bill" process was exposed to the public last fall. But now the GOP-led House has turned their attention to food stamps and it remains to be seen whether Congress can …