October 19, 2010

Policy Matters... As In, It's Important

As a run-of-the-mill citizen who cares about the food I eat and with some understanding of and interest in the policies that affect how and what I eat, the Farm Bill has always struck me as this massively important piece of legislation that gets almost no attention outside of the world of those who actively support sustainable farming and those, like many members of Congress, who take pleasure in giving billions in subsidies to huge agribusinesses so they can grow more corn and soybeans and sugarbeets and the like.

For some reason the Farm Bill is only revisited every 5 years, and the sustainable/small farm community fights its little heart out and gets little scraps of improvement here and there, while the supposed true believers in the free-market system and protectors of the mythical "family farm" in Congress continue to prop up the agri-giants who, one would think, don't need the help. "How are we going to ensure Americans can afford to buy food?" they argue. "They're not all East Coast liberal elites who can afford to pay $8 for organic chard!"

Translated into non-politician-ease: "How can we ensure we continue to get big donations from ADM and Monsanto if we don't waste billions in tax payer dollars to ensure Americans can get cases of Orange Crush and Coke for the same price as 4 or 5 apples?"

In any case, the Farm Bill will be rearing its head once again in the next Congress. And some folks want to stop, or at least drastically slow down, the cycle of the overwrought influence of the big boys and their deep pockets on this important piece of legislation. You can read a little about it on Simple, Good, and Tasty, and then you can stay tuned to the effort through Facebook (even for a reluctant FB user like me, this seems like an apt use of this particular form of social media).

Good luck, and may the $8 organic chard be with you.

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