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.
READ PAST ARTICLES
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:
The Incredible Story of How
Antibiotics Created Modern
Agriculture and Changed the Way
the World Eats
by Maryn McKenna
Bringing our Soil Back to Life
by David R. Montgomery
Renegade Farmers and the Future
of Food in America
by Liz Carlisle
Directed by Chris Malloy
Directed by Ted Gesing,
Lucy Kennedy, Bill Kerr and
by Matt Wechsler and