What is the Farm Bill?

Any idea what I am talking about? Check under the cut to find out the who, what, where, when, and why of the Farm Bill.

Courtesy of FarmBillFacts.org

Who does it support and who is supporting it? According to Mark Bittman of the New York Times, in his article The Secret Farm Bill, the farm bill covers food and agriculture polices but, “…Ultimately supports the cynical, profit-at-any-cost food system that drives obesity, astronomical health care costs, ethanol-driven agriculture and more, creating further deficits while punishing the environment.” With this idea in mind, any activists from food journalists to local farmers to public health groups have all been trying to drum up support and awareness for new provisions they want to see happen regarding local farms and allowing them to also benefit off of the farm bill.

What is it? The farm bill a group of different acts all rolled into one. Each of the acts involved have a different expiration date. According to Jim Robbin’s article for Yale 360, these legistlatative motions are put forth by special interest and farm state politicians every five years to help ensure that the correct amount of money is put towards different facets of farming. This year though, there has been a call to help sustain local farms through the farm bill rather than large industrial farms. The proposed bill may cost $265 billion over five year and will support nutrition programs, commodity crops and conservation programs. The bill only takes up about two percent of federal funding. The main titles covered in the bill are as follows: commodities, conservation, agriculture trade and food aid, nutrition, farm credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture and crop insurance and disaster assistance.

Where is this bill going? The bill goes through an extensive process to eventually make it to congress where it will be voted on. For a full breakdown on the Farm Bill’s journey to getting passed and the factors it faces, check out the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition ‘s article “Path to the 2012 Farm Bill: Major Factors Influencing the Debate”

When is this all happening? The process has been on going since early this year. The parts of the previous bill from 2008 will begin to expire in September of this year, so the current polices need to be revisited, renewed and added to.

Why should I care? According to Jim Robbins, “more people than ever want to make farming more sustainable,” because people have started to take an interest in knowing where their food is coming from. If the new additions focusing on local farms gets passed, they will help support local business. Bittman says the new additions would, .”..make it easier for small and new farmers to borrow money, get small grants and secure crop insurance. It would make it easier to use food stamps at farmers’ markets and buy local food for school lunches.” If anything, passing these new additions would be a major step towards getting America healthy by giving them healthier options.  Here are some ways the farm bill funding has an effect on Americans.


About mariauminski

I am a student at Umass Amherst majoring in journalism with the hopes of becoming a photojournalist.
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