Video: Michael Pollan, “The Farm Bill”

By WorldLink Staff | November 14, 2011 | 6 Comments

Every five years, we have the chance to influence the way our food is produced, our land is conserved, and our health is protected. The legislation that addresses these issues is known as the Farm Bill, and in 2012, it’s up for renewal. “It isn’t really a bill just for farmers,” says food journalist Michael Pollan, in this video from Nourish Short Films. “It really should be called the food bill because it is the rules for the food system we all eat by.”

The potential to improve our current food policy is currently being challenged by a select group of Senate and House agriculture committees who propose $23 billion in cuts to federal spending on some of the most important programs related to nutrition and the future of small-scale, local, and organic farming. The 2012 Farm Bill could be rewritten as early as November 23. It’s vital that these issues be debated in a public forum, not behind closed doors.

Take Action Today

There is still time to participate in the fight for reform that supports new farmers, provides infrastructure for regional and local food development, and protects our health and precious land.

Here are some ways you can get involved in influencing the 2012 Farm Bill:

  • Call. Take 30 seconds to call leaders of the House and Senate ag committees and say NO to the “Secret Farm Bill.” Over 27,000 people have done so already using the Food Democracy Now call script. You can also support the development of local and regional farms, farmers, and retail markets by asking your two senators and your representative to co-sponsor the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act.
  • Meet. To date, there are over 7,000 farmers markets nationwide. Get to know your local farmers. Listen to their stories. Ask them questions about the Farm Bill. The more you understand about the challenges that small-scale farmers face, the larger your role can be in supporting their farms and marketplaces.
  • Explore. Find out about programs intended for inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill. Learn about the new Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, which supports novice farmers by creating jobs, affordable farmland, and farmer training programs. Or read about the pre-existing Wetlands Reserve Program, which has improved watershed health and secured protection and restoration for 11,000 private landowners on 2.3 million acres of land over the past 20 years.
  • Review. Learn a brief history of the Farm Bill to understand key programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which currently represents more than two-thirds of the Farm Bill funding and faces multibillion-dollar cuts.
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  1. Pat Lown — 11.15.11

    Take a look at what we are up against here in Maine:

  2. Suzie Halle — 11.16.11

    I'd like to post an email list rather than suggesting a phone call? Anyone have access to the email list of contacts by State? Might bet more responses that way? Thanks
  3. Akymbo — 11.16.11

    @Suzie -- Personal phone calls are often more effective, but here are a few ways to reach members of Congress online:

    House: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
    Senate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

    And if you'd prefer 140 characters or less...
  4. Brad Wilson11.29.11

    Yes we're just at the beginning, (the issue here isn't even known yet, see below). Yes, great values here. Yes we must vote with our forks!

    No, Pollan gives a false diagnosis and false solution. The "reason" isn't that "the governent is supporting" corn and soybeans. It's penalizing these crops and others. It lowered price floors drastically 1953-1996, then elliminated them. Adding subsidies merely slowed the attack on farmers a little bit (ie. farmers got back about 1/7 of the reductions for corn, wheat and soybeans in compensatory subsidies, but they're still down by 6/7, and most farmers have gone out of business. This is the much bigger issue, but it's ignored here, as Pollan usually misinforms people about it. (Show me online where he hasn't done this.)

    This is impacts related issues in bigger ways than farm bill payments do. For example, on the research question here, Pollan talks about the Research Title of the farm bill. Great. But even bigger is that the huge reductions in farm prices stimulated huge corporate research investments based upon artificially low farm prices. That's a much bigger chunk of money, just as price reductions are much much (ie. 7 times bigger in the US for corn, wheat and soybeans, plus the global impacts that greatly increase the numbers, as the US sets global prices also,) bigger than the subsidies that very partially (1/7) compensate farmers.
  5. Ira — 12.06.11

    I believe most efforts are well intended. If you really want to help, come out to a farm and help on the farm.
  6. Hokie10.16.15

    I have always been curouis about the "farm bill" but have never read it. This article was an eye-opener! The US agricultural policy promotes overproduction of wheat, soy, corn, and rice. It no longer supports the prices nor limits the production. The result is that our food system is full of foods that have added sugars (corn) and fat (soy). So, the price of fruit and vegetables have gone up. This makes it hard for the lower socioeconomic group to purchase low calorie fresh produce. The author purports that this, in and of itself, may be a contributing factor to the increase in obesity in our country.

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