Tuesday, July 10

Unglamorous and Unignorable

Perhaps the most important piece of national legislation this year is also one of the least glamorous. Yet the Farm Bill, which is up for renewal this month, profoundly influence what and how we eat in the United States.

The bill, which is renewed and updated only every 5 years, covers things like farm subsidies and nutritional programs (like food stamps). But while it provides hundreds of millions per year for farming of the corn and soybeans that will become high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and animal feed, driving down the price of junk food and driving up obesity and diabetes, it provides no support to grow fruits and vegetables, which have increased in price by 40% in the last 5 years.

In fact, the last bill directed just $3 million per year total toward research into organic agriculture, while it supplied $2.95 million per year to a single giant cotton farm. As the laws currently stand, organic farmers cannot even buy crop insurance to protect themselves against a poor growing season. Recent stories in the San Francisco Chronicle (find it here) and the New York Times (find it here) provide more information.

One simple way to help is to sign the internet petition at left, sponsored by Environmental Working Group, one of the leaders in Farm Bill reform. They plan to submit it to the House of Representatives on July 15th.

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