Coalition Report

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

You Are Invited To The Table

In this column, we are learning more about the U.S. Farm Bill- or the Food Bill as it should be known-, because in 2012 Congress will re-authorize this complex series of multi-billion dollar legislation. How its provisions are drafted will determine how it gets to you. Will it show up in your neighborhood as a farmers market or a fast-food restaurant? Will you will it see it in your grocery store as cheap soda or affordable blueberries? Will it put more pesticide residue on your baby’s formula or less? Will your apples burst with flavor or bore with blandness?

How the Food Bill structures the farm safety net, the school lunch program, crop insurance, cropping and conservation incentives matters to all of us. The U.S. Food Bill, the nation’s most influential food-related expenditure, incentivizes conditions that degrade soils, pollute water, and encourages the expansion of mega-farms dependent on imported fossil fuels, mega-equipment, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers. Consider that large-scale corporate “farms”- 12% of all farms- get 65% of farm payments. The top 10% get 74% of the subsidies.

What if though, our Farm Bill encouraged sustainable agriculture? What if it encouraged food grown organically, without expensive chemical inputs and fertilizers, investing nutrients back into the soil from composting, and other sustainable farming practices? What if it helped us grow sustainably-produced food that is rich in flavor and nutrients? What if it put more farmers to work? What if it helped make food and farming affordable?

We need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil. We need to put people to work. We need more access to healthier food. We need to put carbon in places where it does the planet good – like the soil- and keep it out of the atmosphere where it adds to a carbon pollution burden. Sustainable farming can do this.

In our Food Bill conversation, what do you have to say? Please plan to join me along with Brad Redlin of the Izaak Walton League and Millie Beman Saint Louis University Department of Nutrition and Dietetics as we explore the impacts of the US Food Bill. With our co-sponsors, including Saint Louis University Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Slow Food St. Louis, the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, and Earth Dance, we are hosting a forum on Food-Farm priorities Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at Saint Louis University, Doisy Hall, Multipurpose Room (Rm. 3040), 3437 Caroline Mall, St. Louis, MO 63104.
For more information, please see: www.moenviron.org/foodfarm.asp
I hope you join me.
I also look forward to seeing you at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival in Forest Park April 17th.
For more information please email Kathleen Logan Smith at klogansmith@moenviron.org.

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