Live Well
June 2018

Getting to a Farm Bill that Serves Us All

The Farm Bill came out on April 19, 2018. The Farm Bill was created in 1933 to ensure that everyone in the United States had access to enough food, that farmers and consumers received and paid fair prices for food, and to protect the land. A key point of the Farm Bill is that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is coupled with the agricultural program. The purpose of this was to get agricultural interests from rural areas and low income people from urban areas to work together for the benefit of all.

80% of the Farm Bill goes to fund the SNAP program, a food-assistance program for low income individuals and families. While this is a necessary worthy program, the program does not necessarily facilitate access to healthier foods. The SNAP program should focus on eliminating food deserts so that more people can have access to healthy and fresh foods. The remainder of the program goes for farm commodity programs (as in, subsidies), crop insurance programs, and conservation programs — 5%, 8% and 6%, respectively. Over time, the Farm Bill has come to become a vehicle to support large farms at the expense of small farmers and local farm networks. As a matter of fact, 94% of farm subsidies currently go to only 6 products: corn, wheat, soy, cotton, rice, and peanuts. Farm subsidies should be supporting small farmers using sustainable farming practices, and encouraging the development of local and regional food hubs. Conservation funds should be dedicated to research into mitigating the effects of contaminated water systems, antibiotic resistance, and soil depletion.

Among other things, the current Farm Bill mandates work requirements for its SNAP recipients (even though many SNAP recipients already work – read and interesting article about this here newfoodeconomy.org/food-industry-food-stamps-problem/), strips funding from conservation programs and other programs supporting local and small farmers, and rolls back protections from pesticides.

What you can do:

  • Call you Member of Congress and asked them to enact reforms that will support a more balanced Farm Bill – one that supports small, local farmers; encourages farming practices that protect our soil, water and air; protects workers; and provide SNAP recipients with more and better access to healthy food.
  • Support your local farms at Farmers’ Markets, through CSAs, or through online farm-to-home delivery services (If you live in Connecticut, two great services are Connecticut Farm Fresh Express and Mike’s Organic)
  • Vote with your dollars. Buy products and encourage large food companies to make changes in the food they buy from farmers and encourage them to purchase ingredients produced with less or no antibiotics and pesticides, to improve working conditions, or to use more environmentally-sound products.

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READ PAST ARTICLES

Worthwhile

I know that summer reading and watching lists are usually focused on books or movies that are relaxing. I challenge you to check out interesting books and movies that are definitely worth reading and/or watching:

Big Chicken

The Incredible Story of How
Antibiotics Created Modern
Agriculture and Changed the Way
the World Eats

by Maryn McKenna

Growing a
Revolution

Bringing our Soil Back to Life
by David R. Montgomery

Lentil Underground

Renegade Farmers and the Future
of Food in America

by Liz Carlisle

Unbroken Ground

Directed by Chris Malloy

Rotten

Directed by Ted Gesing,
Lucy Kennedy, Bill Kerr and
David Mettler

Sustainable

by Matt Wechsler and
Annie Speicher

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Learn

Here are a few of my favorite articles for this month:

The government is getting ready to vote on a new Farm Bill. Read some commentaries on the bill here: READ ARTICLES

civileats.com/2018/04/18/rep-chellie-pingree-get-ready-for-the-2018-farm-billfiasco/

thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/383809-future-of-american-agriculturedepends-
on-2018-farm-bill

foodtank.com/news/2018/04/opinion-republican-farm-bill-broken-food-system/

Check out the Environmental Working Group’s 2018 Guide to Pesticides in Produce here: READ ARTICLE

This is a fascinating article on how the sugars in processed foods feed the bad bacteria in our gut, potentially causing severe illnesses: READ ARTICLE

We can vote with our dollars. This article highlights how consumers are critical to effecting change in large food companies: READ ARTICLE

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that soil is at the root (pun intended) of solutions to re-sequester carbon and mitigate climate change. This is a fascinating article about how focusing on soil health can also help the environment: READ ARTICLE