In case you haven’t been following the progress of the 2012 Farm Bill, which just came out of the Agriculture Committee to head to the Senate floor, here’s a thoughtful update from Environmental Working Group about the draft that just came out of the committee. While some relatively small investments (in the millions) have been proposed for local and sustainable food projects, there are cuts to programs addressing hunger and promoting healthy foods. Much of the proposed money (in the billions) is still being directed towards grain subsidies (corn, wheat, soy, rice, cotton) for wealthy companies, via entitlements and insurance.
If you track the foods that have increased the most during the last few decades of the obesity epidemic, these foods are all based on those same grains. (Here is a graphic I made about this topic.) Corn sweeteners, grains and grain fillers, and corn/soy/cottonseed/”vegetable” oils. Not to mention that continuing to subsidize grains means tearing up land for monocrop planting, and continuing the nutritionally-foolish and environmentally unconscionable practice of grain-feeding livestock.
That the farm bill stays this way and that it’s shaped by the deepest pockets in industrial agriculture is no surprise. But that doesn’t mean we should be cynical and do nothing. Call your senators and tell them you want a 2012 Farm Bill that reduces subsidies for large-scale grain production, and redirects billions of dollars to hunger programs, to investment in small-scale sustainable farming, to farm-to-school projects, etc.
If you want to get involved or informed locally, check out the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group (and their Facebook page). There is also a free opportunity to learn about the Farm Bill tomorrow (Thursday May 3rd 2012) at 6 pm in Ballard.
Thanks to Katie for the CC corn pic and to Cynthia for the info on tomorrow’s session.