Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 Farm Bill

I admit the Farm Bill is hardly at the top of the mind for most folks. I never gave much thought to the enormous impacts of this behemoth until I heard Wes Jackson speak at the PASA (Pennsylvania Association For Sustainable Agriculture) Conference in State College several years ago. Jackson, President Emeritus of The Land Institute in Kansas, was advocating for a longer view for the Farm Bill. His organization's point of view is detailed in this New York Times op-ed pieceThe op-ed is co-written by Wendell Berry.
"Thoughtful farmers and consumers everywhere are already making many necessary changes in the production and marketing of food. But we also need a national agricultural policy that is based upon ecological principles. We need a 50-year farm bill that addresses forthrightly the problems of soil loss and degradation, toxic pollution, fossil-fuel dependency and the destruction of rural communities. This is a political issue, certainly, but it far transcends the farm politics we are used to. It is an issue as close to every one of us as our own stomachs."
Congress tackles Farm Bills on what should be a five year cycle. In recent history, it's common for delays to trigger extensions of the current bill for periods of a year or more. The Agricultural Act of 2014, or the 2014 Farm Bill, is set to expire, for the the most part, at the end of September 2018.
If you're interested in reading more about how the Farm Bill works, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has this primer. 
The House Agriculture Committee has recently launched a website detailing components of the Farm Bill that will be debated in the coming year.
Our Congressman, Glenn Thompson, is vice chair of this committee and we all need to raise our voices to bring our concerns to his attention. The Local Food and Regional Market Supply Act being proposed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a good starting point.

No comments: