Posted by: SmithaM | November 15, 2011

Farm Bill 2012: Rushing through a ‘secret’ bill?

The Farm Bill is scheduled for renewal in 2012. This article in 2010 by Slow Food USA had reported on the information being gathered and the hearings by the House Agriculture Committee 2.5 years before the renewal. The concerns expressed then are real now; key elements of the bill are already being changed as a part of the Federal deficit reduction plan, with a deadline of Nov 23. Without adequate representation or public participation, subsidies for key programs, fruit and vegrable farming, and organic and sustainable practices and products are facing potential budget cuts and exclusion from the 2012 Farm Bill within the next 13 days.

Ken Cook Environmental Working Group’s president and co-founder has been advocating for the Farm Bill reform and his presentation ‘Turning the Farm Bill into the Food Bill’ at TEDxManhattan talked about the issues with the 2012 Bill:

This week, Mark Bittman discussed in this New York Times article, the recommendations being worked out by the House and Senate agricultural committees:

“…a group of four, representing Oklahoma, Michigan, Minnesota and Kansas (do you see a pattern here?) — are working feverishly to draw up a proposal in time to submit it to the supercommittee before the Nov. 23 deadline.

This leaves many advocates and progressives in the world of food, environment, health and poverty in the odd position of trying to influence the group of four’s report to the supercommittee while hoping the process fails…

…The group of four is aiming at $23 billion in cuts, with around $14 billion coming from commodity subsidies, $6 billion from conservation programs, and the rest from nutrition programs like food stamps, now more important than ever. Everyone (almost literally) wants the restructuring of subsidies, but it sounds as if direct payments would be replaced by a new “shallow-loss” protection plan, essentially free insurance that would cover revenue losses before the also heavily subsidized paid insurance kicks in…

…And the devil is in the details. Will small and medium farms raising what are outrageously called “specialty crops” (fruits and vegetables!) be covered by shallow-loss? Will programs supporting new farms, local farms, organic food, access to real food by real people, be boosted? Probably not…”

Read more about the debate and outrage generated by the inclusion of the 2012 Farm Bill into the deficit reduction package in a few of the growing number of news articles, web reports and campaigns:

Environmental Working Group

Huffington Post

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Food & Water Watch

Farm and Dairy

San Francisco Chronicle


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