Margaret Reeves

Margaret Reeves

Crazy, secret Food & Farm Bill

Things are moving fast, furiously and secretively in Washington, DC with the entirely undemocratic development of the 2012 Food and Farm Bill — an approximately $300 billion, tax dollar-funded set of programs covering everything from farm support programs and renewable energy research to food stamps and conservation initiatives.

It is expected that the 12-member congressional Super Committee will receive a Food and Farm Bill proposal this week from the chair and ranking member of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and then decide to accept or reject it within a week's time. That's four individuals — referred to as the Big 4 — making huge decisions that affect us all, and with virtually no public input!

We need to do what we can

While allied groups such as Food Democracy Now are organizing opposition to the “Secret Farm Bill,” PAN is following the lead of the DC-based National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in accepting, for the time being, that having a proposal is better than not. And we're ready to act fast to mobilize public pressure on California’s Super Committee representative Xavier Becerra to ensure that the bill protects vital conservation programs, research and education, organic agriculture, and beginning/socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

The Big 4's proposal will likely become the starting point for the farm bill debate next year.

We are poised to present Becerra with a clear, concise message from organizations and individuals that specifically responds to the agriculture committees’ proposal. So stay tuned, especially if you’re in Becerra's Los Angeles area district or in the district of any of the other 11 Super Committee members.

If this crazy, anti-democratic super committee process succeeds then we may have a Food and Farm Bill for the next five years. While such an outcome seems unlikely, the Big 4's proposal will probably become the starting point for the farm bill debate next year so it's important to do what we can now to affect the outcome.

Relatedly, a bit of good news

On November 1, NSAC announced the successful introduction of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 1773, H.R. 3286), a bill intended for inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill. The legislation helps farmers and ranchers by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing and distribution needs to access growing local and regional food markets. The bill also assists consumers by improving access to healthy food. The measure provides secure farm bill funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, create rural jobs and invest in the local food and agriculture economy.

Stay tuned » To follow the latest developments, and to know how and when to lend your voice, please follow us here or visit the NSAC blog.

Margaret Reeves

Margaret Reeves

Margaret Reeves is a PAN Senior Scientist with expertise in agroecology and soil ecology. As a long-time farmworker advocate, Margaret serves on the Board of the Equitable Food Initiative and works with partners around the country to ensure worker-protective federal and state policy. Follow @MargaretatPAN

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