Coalition Report

by Kathleen Logan Smith
Executive Director; Missouri Coalition For The Environment

Money, Health, and Big Business Intersect in the Farm Bill

The five-year Farm Bill, which our Congress is once again debating, gives us the opportunity to examine the relationship between our tax dollars, health, farms, and food.

Today, the Farm Bill represents about $110 billion per year in spending. It impacts more than 922 million acres of farmland. Despite its name, the majority of Farm Bill spending is not found in the programs that reach agricultural producers. Instead, 74% directly helps feed people through “SNAP”-the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that we once called “food stamps” and the child nutrition program which covers school lunches and programs for infants and young children. Because farmers are outnumbered by their urban counterparts, the decision to marry nutrition and farming was a political one. People need farmers. Farmers need people. Congressmen need votes.
The Farm Bill began in the 1930’s in response to the agricultural and ecological devastation wrought by unsustainable agricultural practices, erosion, and drought. Half of America was starving and Congress acted.

Since then, Farm Bills have changed, yet some of the problems remain, along with some new ones: Most farmers can’t eat the crops they grow today because they are intended for livestock feed or fuel stock; many farmers cannot access markets to sell their products; too many people cannot access safe, healthy, nutritious, and affordable food; acres of farmland continue to shrink as urban areas encroach despite a world with more and more mouths to feed everyday; industrial-scale, fossil-fuel based farm practices have increased pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, manure, and fertilizers with impacts on America’s food, drinking water, rivers, lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico; barriers to new farmers and organic production persist.

To foster a food system that offers security, ecological sustainability, fair markets, healthy food, and strong rural communities we must work together to decipher the Farm Bill ABC’s and press Congress to govern for the people and not the special interests. This year, commit yourself to having a say in how your food is produced. Stay informed by signing up for our e-alerts at www.moenviron.org or follow us on Twitter so you will be ready to act when called.
For more information contact Kathleen Logan Smith, Executive Director, Missouri Coalition for the Environment by email at klogansmith@moenviron.org.
Please visit our booth at the Healthy Planet Natural Living Expo, Feb. 27.

The Healthy Planet does not endorse any information contained in articles, advertisements or directory listings and we suggest consulting a health care professional before beginning any therapy or medical treatment.