The Farm Bill is coming! Are you asking “what in the world is the Farm Bill and why should I care?” The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act is commonly known as the Farm Bill and covers a wide range of food and farming programs, including SNAP (formerly Food Stamps and currently known as CalFresh in California). The huge bill is renegotiated and voted upon by the Congress roughly every five years. 2012 is the lucky year.
The bill contains a lot of information and not many of us know much about it yet what’s in it affects every one of us every day.
I highly recommend you take the 13 minutes to watch this video from Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group. He gives a great overview of the bill and answers the question of why you should care AND tells you how you can help make a difference in this bill.
Here’s my CliffsNotes version in case you don’t have 13 minutes to watch right now.
What most people do know about the Farm Bill is it provides subsidies to farmers. This is true and it does help some family farmers but the system is broken as it currently stands. 60% of farms do not get subsidies. Currently nutrition programs receive $314 billion over five years through the Farm Bill. SNAP is the single largest item in the bill and it should be. Half of the SNAP recipients are children, extremely poor children. A family of three cannot qualify if they make more than $23,000 a year and the average benefit is $4.50 per day.
I was happy to hear that while EWG is an environmental organization (duh) their top priority in the Farm Bill – or Food Bill as Mr. Cook calls it – is to serve low income people. In his talk, Mr. Cook also mentions that we (Americans) have not invested in organic like the Europeans have and in this next bill, we should be helping farmers convert.
According to the American time use survey, we spend 28 minutes a day eating while doing something else (snacking) and 87 minutes a day drinking something other than water. What Mr. Cook is asking in this video is for all of us to give three snacking or drinking moments over the year and call your member of congress. Tell them you want a Farm Bill that’s a Food Bill, that protects low income people, that protects the land and that invests in organic and healthier school lunches. Can you do that?
Let us know when you make a call by commenting below or on our Facebook page. Thank you!