The new Farm Bill has been fast-tracked, with an unusually brief window that closes November 1. If you’d like to contact your elected officials, look them up by clicking here.
Here’s a round-up of articles. (Thanks to SAFSF and others for the links and summaries!)
Super Fast Farm Bill? Super Fast Update!
Having sent off the joint letter, the staffs of the two Agriculture Committees hunkered down all week to stitch together a farm bill in what, if successful, would be record time. Due to the brief two week window, none of the normal congressional processes for farm bills or other major legislation are being used — no hearings, circulated bill drafts, mark-ups in which committee members get to offer amendments, etc. The primary activity has all been behind closed doors and has for the most part only involved the staff of the chairs and ranking members, not the members (and their staffs) who make up the rank and file of the two committees.
Quick and dirty: Congress may rewrite the Farm Bill in two weeks
This new Farm Bill will also be smaller, thanks to the deal cut to avoid a government default over the summer. In the wake of that agreement, Congress convened a “super committee” of House and Senate negotiators that’s required to come up with a plan by this Thanksgiving to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. Of that total, $23 billion must come from the USDA budget—a number recently recommended by House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders. There is panic in the fields of Big Ag at such a drastic reduction in farm and food spending.
When Some Farm Subsidies Go Away, Will Our Food System Be Healthy?
So if the most often-cited example of farm subsidies is about to end, does that mean we’re on our way to a food system that makes broccoli more affordable than fast food burgers? It’s not quite that simple. As we describe in a new report, released this week with the Public Health Institute, subsidies are not making junk food cheaper and more abundant than healthy food – the real culprit is the deregulation of agriculture markets, the failure to enforce anti-trust law and the millions spent on marketing junk food.
Local Farm, Foods, and Job Act
Additionally, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (ME) and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) submitted a Local Farm, Foods, and Job Act to be part of the Farm Bill. This bill is called a "marker bill" and is intended to influence the writing of the federal farm bill. The goal of the bill is to advance the development of local and regional farm and food systems in the next farm bill -- from farm to table. Congresswoman Pingree speak about the bill here.