The Farm Bill, Explained (Very Quickly)

Every five years or so, the farm bill comes up, but to people outside America’s farm-dense Midwest, it usually gets very little attention, despite totaling about $70 billion annually. This year, however, the Bay Area is at the forefront of a movement that is urging Congress to use the bill to increase the nation’s supply of healthy, organic food:

The short version of the argument – and nothing is short when it comes to the mind-numbing, complex farm bill – is that the bill subsidizes the overproduction of corn and soy in the Midwest, which is driving up obesity and diabetes and polluting the land. Instead, they say, the farm bill should put more money into sustainable and organic food production, agricultural conservation and efforts to put a higher priority on fresh, local fruits and vegetables.Their slogan: It’s the food, health and farm bill.

It’s important to note that this is basically the first time that non-Farm Belt citizens (not to mention politicians) have really shown an interest in the bill, something that isn’t sitting well with the Midwestern states who now risk losing subsidies. And losing subsidies means losing money, which of course will ruffle feathers.

Naturally, the farm bill issues are much more complex and far-ranging than we can explain in a mere blog post, so if you are interested, we recommend you check out the Chronicle article (below). There is a bevy of further online resources at the end of the article as well.

The new food crusade

The Farm Bill, Explained (Very Quickly)