GroundTruth Blog

is PAN's Senior Scientist. Follow @MargaretatPAN

Margaret Reeves's blog

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

There's plenty of Farm Bill news from DC these days. Hopeful proposals are in the works that support local food economies, family farms and conservation. But we still have lots of work to do to protect the good programs won in the 2008 Farm Bill — most were "stranded" without funding at the end of last year.

Here's a brief rundown of what bits of legislation are moving, what last week's budget proposal from the President means to farmers and conservation programs, and what's up next in the 2013 Farm Bill process.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

The Farm Bill is again in motion, and budget negotiations are first up. This past week the House and Senate passed different versions of a Continuing Resolution (CR), the short-term budget fix that will keep programs afloat for the coming year.

The House version fails to fund key conservation programs or provide support for rural communities. The Senate did a bit better, but their version still leaves many important programs stranded. Between now and March 27 Congress will be reconciling these two versions of the budget, and we'll be pressing hard for decisions that support smart, innovative farming. We’ll keep you posted as the process unfolds and action is needed.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

Every year around this time, I blog about the invisible impacts of how we spend our Valentine’s Day dollars, and why it matters. Our choices for chocolate and flowers can either support innovative farmers and safe, dignified livelihoods for farmworkers whose labor brings you such Valentine’s goodies — or not.

This year I'm broadening my call for food system justice to include not only the millions of workers who harvest our food, but also the millions who work in restaurants to serve it. Did you know that Valentine's Day is the highest grossing day in the restaurant industry? A perfect moment to show your support and raise your voice for farmworkers and restaurant workers alike.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

New Year's Eve proved disastrous for farmers, consumers and the environment. That was the day Congress kicked the Farm Bill can down the road, failing to pass a new five-year law with much needed reforms and improvements — or even the reasonable short-term extension that was on the table.

Instead, legislators passed an awful nine-month extension as part of the "fiscal cliff" bargain. The bill includes no reform of huge payments to the big commodity crops, no disaster assistance and no extension of funding for a range of important programs — from farmers markets to rural micro-enterprise to organic research. The silver lining? We now have nine months to push for a decent Farm Bill that keeps what's working and reforms what's broken. We're rolling up our sleeves.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

The adage "we are what we eat" supports  food and nutrition education programs across the country. The same goes for the farm — production of an abundant diversity of healthy crops depends on healthy soil and crop management techniques.

Farmers aren't born knowing how to do this, they learn. They learn from each other, and through programs like USDA's new soil health initiative. This is why we're working hard to make sure the next Farm Bill is a strong one that supports innovative farmer education.