Fix the farm bill so it promotes public health
The Farmers Legal Action Group has a new report out analyzing the 2008 Farm Bill and explaining what needs to happen to bring our agricultural policies in line with public health policies. The report has a title that warms my heart, “Planting the Seeds for Public Health.” Its subtitle: “How the farm bill can help farmers to produce and distribute healthy foods.”
Its main findings:
- Fruit and vegetable farmers lack a safety net to protect them from natural disasters in a manner comparable to programs that are available for farmers producing major commodity crops, such as corn, soybeans and wheat;
- Crop insurance, disaster assistance, and loan and conservation programs are not designed to address the unique characteristics of fruit and vegetable production and marketing; and
- Nutrition program expenditures are not adequately directed to ensure children, including those from low-income households, receive healthy food.
And one key observation: many of the recommended changes could be made by the USDA without the need for additional direction from Congress. Translation: No need to wait until 2012 when the Farm Bill comes up again.
USDA could do a lot of this NOW!