Farm Bill Campaign | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Farm Bill Campaign

Margaret Reeves's picture

A Farm Bill at long last

Phew! After a long, arduous two-and-a-half year process, we finally have a Farm Bill. The bill, approved recently in both the House and Senate, now goes to President Obama for near-certain approval. Unfortunately, as we reported last week after the House vote, the new law is a real mixed bag.

On the plus side, support is up for local and regional food systems; farmers must conserve soil and water if they want help paying for crop insurance; and more insurance options are now available for organic farmers. On the minus side, food stamp funding was slashed; Congress failed miserably to rein in huge payments to millionaire farmers; and conservation funding was reduced for the first time since the program began in 1985.

Margaret Reeves
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No small potatoes

Minnesotans who live in potato country have been worried about pesticide drift for a long time. And the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is finally taking some steps to address the problem.

The agency is taking a closer look at the voluntary Best Management Practices they promote to potato farmers to minimize fungicide drift. And answering the call for public input, nearly 1,000 Minnesotans submitted comments last week, voicing their concerns about fungicides and the risks they post for human health, the toll they take on ecosystems, and their costs to the livelihood of small farmers.

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Moving the Farm Bill forward

In an unusually bipartisan effort, the Senate passed a version of the Farm Bill Monday with a vote of 66-27. The national farm policy — which comes up every five years for debate — will now be taken up in the House. Republican leadership there said today that it will move forward quickly toward a vote. 

The Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act, a complex 1,150-page bill, largely replaces direct payments to farmers with an expanded crop insurance program that requires conservation compliance. The bill sports two dozen amendments, including several conservation measures that PAN and our partners have pressed hard for. But overall, the news is mixed.

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Getting food & farming back on track

The Senate is in recess this week, but they'll be resuming Farm Bill debate on Monday. The bill will be pared down in the coming days, and PAN and partners are working hard to ensure that key policies that support healthy food, farming and communities are included in the final law.

Among the many amendments up for consideration, three rise to the top of our priority list. These provisions take steps to protect honey bees and support farmers who put smart practices in place to protect our shared air, soil and water. This is our once-every-five-years opportunity to get food and farming policy back on track.

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Healthy food & farms: How will Congress vote?

I am neither a farmer nor an octogenarian, yet images of the disastrous U.S. dust bowl of the 1930s are forever etched in my memory. What I am is a mom, who is well aware of how children's health is linked to the food our kids eat — in all kinds of ways. And these two things are are inextricably linked through our food system, and the policies that shape it.

How farmers treat the soil and how they grow and market our food determines, in the big picture, the health of our children. The choices farmers have and the decisions they make are strongly influenced by government policies — policies that are being crafted this week as the Farm Bill moves forward on Capitol Hill. 

Margaret Reeves
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Margaret Reeves's picture

Dear Congress, we the people want a Farm Bill

The Farm Bill expired on Monday (here's a roundup of what that means). So while we still have no Farm Bill, I'm here to tell you that Congress is feeling the heat. From all around the country — from farmers and mothers, environmentalists and faith communities — people are calling on Congress to pass a Farm Bill this year. While it won’t happen before the November elections it can happen during the short lame duck session that follows.

Margaret Reeves
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A better Food & Farm Bill - now!

Congress is hard at work writing the 2012 Farm Bill, and people across the country are calling for food and farming policy that creates jobs, invests in farmers and ensures healthy food is widely available.

Farm Bills happen twice a decade, and they are a confusing mess every time. But you don’t need to be an expert to understand that we deserve a Food and Farm Bill that uses tax-payer moneys wisely — not to prop up a bloated and broken model of industrial agriculture, but to support food and farming systems that feed the future.

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