Understanding the Farm Bill: Entrenched Interests, Incremental Change

Last week, I attended a Farm Bill listening session held by the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) in Minneapolis. The organization was looking for input about what should be its 2012 Farm Bill policy priorities, but what it got instead was smorgasbord of ideas that would be difficult -- if not impossible -- to put into the Farm Bill as it is now. Because the Farm Bill directly affects the lives and livelihoods of all Americans (and many around the world), there are many stakeholders. But because it is both so broad and so complex, it’s hard to please everyone. It's even harder to get entrenched interests to agree to anything but incremental change.

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Understanding the Farm Bill: Who Benefits From the Current Commodity Programs?

In my last Farm Bill post, I wrote about the argument for directly subsidizing agricultural production: farm income is erratic, and in order to keep farmers in the business of supplying the food and fiber we all need, they must be guaranteed an adequate income. Under the current system, farmers are given direct payments simply for growing an eligible crop, such as corn or soybeans. In years when prices fall below the target price for a particular crop, they also receive countercyclical payments. 

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The Troubling Facts Surrounding “Troubled Waters”

A locally-produced film has been stirring up plenty of controversy in Minnesota’s agricultural and education communities. “Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story” is a documentary produced by the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum about pollution and water contamination in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

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"Speak Up to Stop Big Ag": The Latest Action Alert from Food Democracy Now

Obama campaigning in Iowa, January 2008.Obama campaigning in Iowa, January 2008.

While the debate over healthcare reform continues to rage in Washington, other political news can get lost in the cracks.

Case in point, did you know that President Obama recently nominated two "Big Ag" executives -- with connections to Monsanto and CropLife -- to key posts in the U. S. Department of Agriculture? The story wasn't covered by the mainstream news organizations, so I didn't hear about it until I received an action alert from Food Democracy Now.

Here's the full text:

Dear Friends,

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Food Democracy Now: In Defense of Michael Pollan

fooddemocracynow1 This is from the site Food Democracy Now, via my friend Shari (thanks Shari!):

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