Friday, March 14, 2008

The Farm Bill

Food is the basis of our economy, our culture and our society. Slow Food is aiming for a food system that is good, clean and fair. Farmers are at the heart of Slow Food. The Farm Bill that is currently being conferenced between the House and Senate is essential in providing for the future success of small and beginning farmers and the future of our food.

What are the big gains in the Farm Bill?
· $2 billion over 5 years for the Conservation Stewardship Program to assist farmers making a commitment with environmental outcomes

· Strong livestock reforms: providing steps to stop unfair contract practices between ranchers and meatpackers

· Mandatory funding for Sustainable Agriculture Coalition programs such as:
o $40 M for Organic Farming Research
o $30 M for Farmer’s Market Promotion programs
o $22 M for Organic Certification Cost-sharing programs

· Important Policy changes:
o “Sodsaver” provision to discourage cropping on native praire
o Reduced interest rate and better terms for beginning Farmer and Rancher loans
o Removal of barriers to organic farmers’ access to crop insurance

What’s missing in the Senate Bill?
o The Senate Bill does not go far enough in funding new farm and rural income opportunities
o It fails to fund “Value-Added Producer Grants
o It fails to fund “Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program”
o It failed to pass the Dorgan-Grassley payment limit amendment
(this amendment would have capped commodity payments)

What can we do?
o Read Food Fight by Dan Imhoff which explains the importance of the Farm Bill
o Write or contact your representative
o Make a difference through your buying choices; policy and legislation aren’t the only places to make a difference

Learn more about the Farm Bill through Slow Food resources on the Slow Food website

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