The Farm Bill is a huge piece of legislation that guides close to $100 billion in spending each year for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (80%) and agricultural programs (20%). It is renegotiated approximately every five years and this year is the year.
Investing in our food and agriculture system is important. Unfortunately, too many provisions in the farm bill promote the wrong kinds of food: unhealthy food produced in ways that harm small-scale farmers, rural communities, and the environment.
Programs like the “Section 2501” grants that provide resources to farmers of color and the Organic Certification Cost Share Program that makes organic certification more affordable for small-scale farmers represent a very small slice of the total farm bill but are essential for a fair and sustainable food system. We must fight to preserve and expand programs like this while limiting resources devoted to industrial agriculture models.
And the Farm Bill’s impact stretches beyond the U.S. The U.S. Farm Bill has had a dramatic impact on agricultural communities across the globe by providing subsidies to domestic farmers that create unfair competition globally and by mechanisms that encourage overproduction in the U.S. and dumping of excess supply on rural communities in the Global South under the guise of “aid.”
A fair farm bill would prioritize people and planet globally by investing in small-scale farmers who practice agroecology and produce healthy food. It would also ensure access to healthy food for all consumers and distribute food aid both domestically and internationally in a way that protects long-term markets for farmers while ensure access to nutritious food for all consumers.
Fortunately a bill that upholds many of these principles and values has already been introduced by Representative Earl Blumenauer. The Food and Farm Act would favor farmers and consumers not agribusiness and would be a good start to fixing our food and agriculture system.
The next Farm Bill is in early discussions and Congress needs to hear now that we want this massive legislation to ensure healthy farms and healthy food. Contact your Senators and Representatives now!
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The Agricultural Worker Protection Standards are the EPA’s regulations that aim to reduce pesticide exposure among agricultural workers and others who handle pesticides. As many as 20,000 farmworkers are victims of pesticide poisoning each year and pesticide exposure leads to higher rates of birth defects in children of farmworkers compared to the general population.
Chlorpyrifos is an extremely toxic pesticide used on a variety of common crops including corn, oranges, and strawberries. It is responsible for acute pesticide poisoning of farmworkers, polluting drinking water, and developmental delays in children who live in farming communities.
The U.S. is a country that depends on its immigrants. This is especially true of our food system, where the people who plant, tend, harvest, process, prepare, sell, and serve our food are disproportionately immigrants, many here legally and others who have been unable to obtain required documentation.