Y’all heard about this Farm Bill that’s hit the Senate? It’s kind of a big deal as deals out some HALF TRILLION DOLLARS on crop insurance, conservation and nutrition programs. It includes legislation on programs that affects urbanites like SNAP (aka food stamps) as well as farmers and of course, you, the consumer. And not only is it big money, but a BIG bill – over 900 pages containing legislation on hundreds of programs. Here’s a quick rundown of which parts of this behemoth you should concern yourself with:
The bill proposes a $4.5 billion cut to food stamp programs over the next 10 years. In fact, most of the bill’s $969 billion budget, nearly $800 billion is made up in SNAP spending. So a 4.5 bil cut doesn’t seem like a big deal, but with 1 in 7 Americans on food stamps (46 million people), this is a big deal.*
Crop Insurance and Subsidies:
There’s a huge movement in the foodie world to get subsidies cut to boost up commodity crops like soy, corn, etc. Celebrity chefs have joined in signing of a letter urging funds that are spent in this area to instead be spent on conservation and healthy food/nutritional program funding. The way the funding is dealt out in the bill currently eliminates a $5-billion-a-year handout to farmland owners but replace it with an insurance program estimated to cost about $3 billion. This program is open to all farmers, but will probably benefit commodity crop growers more than those who grow fruits and vegetables.
The letter states that the bill would take “positive steps” toward meeting those goals, but it “falls far short of the reforms needed to come to grips with the nation’s critical food and farming challenges.” Organized by the Environmental Working Group, the letter was signed by Locallectual favs Mario Batali and Tom Colicchio; food writer Michael Pollan; and Alice Waters, among others.
So what can you do to help make sure Farm Bill money gets sent to small farmers, your neighbors in need and nutrition programs? You always, always can write emails and letters to your senators and congressmen. Personalized or handwritten mail may actually get read by them! Also vote with your fork – buy local and shop at farmers markets. Don’t shop big box stores for your groceries, help your local shops. Buy organic, buy healthy. And of course share the importance of the bill with your friends and neighbors!
*Update: Since written, the Senate has shot down Rand Paul’s amendment to the Farm Bill which would have allowed these cuts.