We’ve been reading and discussing Dan Imhoff’s book, Food Fight - The Citizens Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill. Since our first post in February
Farm Bill. Not Sexy. Really Matters
it’s been a lively discussion with 115+ comments and thoughts you have shared. Thanks for joining in.
Turning the Tables, the last section of the book, is our final post on the book. Chapter 23 begins:
The Farm Bill is one of those topics where once you start pulling the string, you find the whole world is attached. That’s because the Farm Bill sets the rules of the game, influencing not only what we eat, but also who grows it, under what conditions, and how much it costs. The agribusiness and food manufacturing lobbying organizations that have in essence written those rules for our legislators in recent decades deserve the lion’s share of the responsibility for shaping the present state of our food system and its tangle of critical problems.
The good news is that, to a large extent, the ideas needed to turn the tables and create a health-focused food and farming system already exist. They share a common condition: Most are ignored, marginalized, or underfunded by current Farm Bill programs. And yet, momentum is there. (pg. 186 )
Imhoff lists 25 Ideas Whose Time Has Come, including:
1. Aligning Farm Bill crop supports to USDA dietary guidelines.
2. Conservation programs that reward stewardship and sound farming rather than surplus production.
3. Establishing income eligibility limits on farm supports with no loopholes.
4. Incentives for a grass-based livestock economy with the goal of shifting 50% away from feedlots in 30 years.
5. Using more crop rotation, cover crops and alternatives to replace synthetic fertilizers.
6. Creating a 50-year Farm Bill of perennial, ecologically based farming.
He also offers a3-step Activist Tool Kit:
Step One: Stay up to date
Use these organizations to follow news on the Farm Bill (partial list)
Environmental Working Group
Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Step Two: Get Involved
Contact these organizations to join the effort of influence (partial list)
Environmental Defense Fund
National Resources Defense Council
American Farmland Trust
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Step Three: Take it to the Hill
Tell your legislators what you want to see in the Farm Bill, especially anyone on these committees:
House Committee on Agriculture
House Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
House Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture
House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry
House Committee on Appropriations
Senate Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy
Chair: Peter Welch (D – Vermont)
Senate Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources
Chair: Michael Bennet (D – Colorado)
Senate Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops and Organics, and Research
Chair: John Fetterman (D - Pennsylvania)
Senate Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, Food Safety and Security
Chair: Kirsten Gillibrand (D – New York)
I’ll share some disappointment. I wrote a short but sweet note in early February to my House Representative asking how California’s 16th district can be more involved in the Farm Bill, but have not heard back. I’ve always got a response to past letters and still hope to hear. If that information comes, we’ll report back.
Food Partiers! – It’s still all about Action. Farm Bill 2023 is being written now for possible release in the fall. Send a letter to your representatives. Give a call. Imhoff reminds the time for a Food Fight has arrived.
Together we can make a great meal, and a great difference.
- Photos courtesy of LSIC