Friday, November 4, 2011

Somebody wasn't paying attention

When I got a forwarded message about the Farm Bill a couple of weeks ago I assumed that it was just another trumped up appeal for funds by a non-profit. I mean, the Farm Bill coming up is the 2012 Farm Bill, right?


Or maybe not wrong...
We'll need to see what happens this weekend.

Here's the story in brief.
Last month the chairs of the agriculture committees, senate and house, agreed to send a farm bill to the super committee by November 1. As of today, they still hadn't done so.

You can imagine that their committees, who are taken out of the loop here, and who represent all kinds of agricultural locales and interests, were not happy.
There is a proposal in the works. It cuts subsidies, conservation programs, and food security programs, but with little of the innovation or new, lower cost (as compared to commodity subsidies) programs we might have wished for. There are also some additional bills, adding in support for new farmers and sustainable ags - not of the committee chairs' making, obviously.

Nobody (meaning sustainable ag advocates - the site above, and some word of mouth here in Sonoma County) knows whether something will get to the Supercommittee by November 7. It may all blow up.

Let's hope it does, because this is not what we had hoped for at the time of the 2007(8) Farm Bill. The conversation about food and agriculture has broadened and deepened in this country, and to not have the public conversation we are poised for - well, it simply underscores the frustration so many of us are feeling - frustration with being dealt out of the political process while the big boys buy and sell influence.

If the bill is delivered Monday, it will be posted, and I'm told that sustainable ag advocates here in California will review it and get their comments to Xavier Becerra, who is the only Californian on the supercommittee. Because we Callifornians aren't part of the wheat-soy-corn trifecta, we win far less than our share of supports and helpful programs. This is especially pointed when you consider just how much of the country's food we do produce.

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