The Farm Bill and Why You Should Care

May 18, 2012


Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture for the crucial Farm Bill of 2012. I know what you might be thinking, but this bill doesn’t just affect men in their sixties wearing overalls and a John Deere cap. It also affects young organic farmers, women farmers, refugee farmers, and basically everyone in the nation who cares about climate change and eats, drinks, and breathes.

Among the programs threatened to be cut by Congress’s metaphorical scissors is the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This program has paid farmers to keep delicate and erodible land out of production, including forests, prairies, and wetlands. It’s been important in that it has sequestered carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. Putting land into a conservation program like CRP also encourages cleaner water, cleaner soil, and protects habitats for wildlife. It’s imperative for battling climate change and for protection of the some of the natural world.

Approximately seven million acres are currently at risk of being taken out of CRP, which will lead to a massive amount of stored carbon being released into the atmosphere. It will do major damage in destroying ecosystems and wildlife, all for the sake of tilling it under in order to plant every inch of ground in chemical-laden crops, like soy and corn, only to be fed to suffering factory-farmed animals and make environmentally damaging ethanol.

Another important part of the farm bill that is threatened with deep cuts is the 50 percent cut to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. This grant program affects training programs for new farmers including minority, immigrant, and women farmers. The cut would affect programs like Empowering Beginning Women Farmers in the Northeast through Whole Farm Planning, and New Roots for Refugees, which has given immigrants land access they would otherwise never be able to have.

And that is just the beginning. The farm bill instead focuses on subsidy crop production (soy, corn, rice, cotton and wheat) that impact the earth with toxins, and ignores…well, most things, like the planet’s health, the health of endangered wildlife, poor people, and the future of life on earth in general. As is, it is devastating. The current draft of the Farm Bill has been recently approved by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, but it may still be able to be fixed. Please take a minute now and tell the House committee what you need in the next Farm Bill. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a farmer—you are a person who lives in this world, and you care about this world’s future.

This bill is not just the Farm Bill. It is the Food Bill, the Planet Bill, the Poverty Bill, the Climate Change Bill. It is all interconnected, and it is important for everyone to speak up for.


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