by Marion Nestle
Nov 28 2011

On the demise of the secret farm bill

Stephen Clapp, reporting Friday in Food Chemical News (subscription required, alas), had this to say about Congress’s failure to create and pass a farm bill in secret and without debate (see previous post):

The agriculture committees will now try to achieve an unprecedented feat — passing a Farm Bill in an election year. Even in the best of times, passing a Farm Bill is like “passing a kidney stone,” quipped Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in 2008.

  • NYFarmer

    Dairy farmers of the Northeast have been discussing the Farm Bill for two years now. This means meetings of various organizations to form platforms and wish lists: Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, producer cooperatives (big and small…from the biggest cooperative, Dairylea, to the smallest group of independent farmers), Holstein Association, Jersey Association (both wanting something different), rural legislative task forces, the NYS Association of Counties Blue Ribbon Commission on Ag, grazier and grassland groups, young farmers clubs, the woman farmer groups, Soil & Water Conservation Committees and the young farmers coalition. Senator Gillibrand made history in terms of her 2012 Farm Bill style by actually going out into the countryside and offering all a chance to speak…and listening. Urban media has covered none of this and the food-interested urban groups have had little interest in what it is that the region’s dairy farmers would need to survive. Perhaps it is because we, as commodity farmers, are still invisible or perhaps because it is believed that we have nothing to offer. Too bad. So much positive could be achieved if we saw interaction between urban food-interested people and farmers of rural America. Or, do we wait another five years?

  • Anthro

    The trouble with a farm bill (and perhaps ANY bill) is that various special interests simply fight it out until some horrible mush of a bill is hammered out rather than actually looking at the entire system and all the people who are affected and coming up with something that truly serves the best interest of FARMS and FARMERS–and that would define and separate real family farms from corporate “growers” and make the rules work for the former while regulating the hell out of the latter.

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