The 2012 Farm Bill, a wide ranging bill that covers sustainable farming, organic food, big ag, food accessibility, and much, much more, will affect each and every one of us. Sadly, most people don't understand what it is or why it matters, and even fewer feel empowered to get involved and make a difference. Over the past several months, Simple, Good, and Tasty has published a series of articles about the Farm Bill, attempting explaining the issues in basic, understandable terms. These include:
- The 2012 Farm Bill - a brief overview of what we're trying to do and why.
- A Farm Bill Primer: Getting Ready for 2012 - an overview of the bill, its history, what's in it, and what's at stake in 2012.
- A two-part discussion of the Farm Bill commodity programs. Part One provides an overview, while part two asks who benefits from the current commodity programs.
- Countercyclical Payments, Base Acres, and Other Things Most People Don't Understand - an attempt to clearly explain a few specifics related to farm subsidies.
- Entrenched Interests, Incremental Change - how different groups perceive the bill and what they hope to get out of it, and a discussion of the Farm Bill as a "Food Bill."
- Good Soil and the Programs That Protect It - the importance of soil health and conservation, and what it has to do with the 2012 Farm Bill.
- Who is the Average Family Farmer? - a realistic look at family farms and their role in agriculture.
- What's SNAP Got to Do With It? - a look at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), funded in the Farm Bill.
- A handy, downloadable traceout of the current corn subsidy program, showing where the support -- and the money -- goes.
Our goal with all of this heady stuff, as explained in this Civil Eats post, is to make it less heady and more accessible -- to empower readers to understand and make a difference.
Just about all of these articles (aside from the terrific traceout from Sasha Breger Bush) were researched and written by Ann Butkowski, who I was lucky to meet at a farm event last year. Ann is passionate, smart, well-educated, and fun to know. Each time she submits an article, she apologizes -- for being late, for being unclear, for being imperfect -- but the truth is that she's doing some of the most important work we get to publish here. When you see her, buy her a beer. (I know I will.)
My other favorite part of this initiative is getting to work with Mark Muller from IATP on a Facebook Fan page called Understanding the Farm Bill: A Citizen's Guide to a Better Food System. Mark is a phenomenal guy, and he's committed to sharing one Farm Bill-related post to the Facebook group each day. If you're interested in these issues but are not yet part of the group, please go ahead and "Like" it now. You'll be glad you did.
Lots of what we do at SGT is about connecting people to good food and the issues surrounding it. I'm proud of our Farm Bill work, which is squarely at the center of our mission. Please read it, think about it, share it with your friends, and let us know what you think.
Lee Zukor is the founder of Simple, Good, and Tasty. Email him at email@example.com.