Detangling the Farm Bill (from the urban ag experts at Lettuce Link)

Editor’s Note: The urban agriculture experts at Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program are detangling the federal Farm Bill in a series of posts. We are reposting Amelia Swinton’s post here to help get the word out.

 Since you’ve wound your way to Lettuce Link’s corner of the blogosphere, it’s safe to say that you have a stake in how we interact with food in this country. Maybe you’re fed up with high prices at farmers markets, alarmed by skyrocketing rates of diabetes, or just totally grossed out by what kids eat in their school cafeterias. Regardless of your motives, we probably all agree that many of our food policies have broken.

Workers on a farm.

Sustainable farming. Photo courtesy of Grow Food (c) 2005 (see link at bottom)

Over the next few months, this series will set out to situate our frustrations in specific policies, budgets, and farms so that we can understand why dinner tables look like they do. Cause eating has become political, and the health equity of our edible landscape will be determined by how we choose to consume it.

So! We’ve got our work cut out for us. The star of this series is a web of legislation called the Farm Bill that determines the funding and  policies for food and agriculture in the United States.  Rolling in at nearly 1,300 pages of dense legal jargon, our aim here is to pick (pieces of) it apart so that we can put them back together in a healthier, more equitable, and tastier way.
This is the first post of our Farm Bill series, which will be oriented around the following questions (& any others you suggest!):
  1. What did the Farm Bill originally aim to do? What does it do now?
  2. How does the bill influence spending and policies?
  3. Who does the bill affect?
  4. What type of agriculture does the bill promote?
  5. How does the bill affect our nation’s schools: nutrition education, fitness initiatives, lunch offerings, and garden projects?
  6. Can we discuss the language of food, especially terms like “organic”, “sustainable”, “agribusiness”, “obesity”, “food deserts”, “commodities”, and “eating well”?
    So that we can eventually sink our teeth into a much juicier question:
  7. How can we reform the bill to support a food system that is just, affordable & nourishing, from seed to table?
We hope that this series helps cut up the formidable Farm Bill into pieces that we can actually chew. Anyone who’s ever heard Sue McGann’s epic introduction to Marra Farm has learned that the interconnections between agriculture, food, health, immigration, and foreign aid are shocking.
So, keep voting with that fork, keep recognizing the political charge of each bite. Things taste a whole lot better that way.
We’ll update you with meeting information for the Community Alliance for Global Justice’s Farm Bill Action meetings. Until then, you can investigate their wealth of online resources at http://www.seattleglobaljustice.org/food-justice/farm-bill/ .

Photo courtesy of Grow Food (c) 2005.

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