‘The eaters have spoken,” writes Michael Pollan in his latest article about the 2007 Farm Bill. As eaters and professional feeders, chefs have as much of a stake in the Farm Bill currently being debated in the Senate as parents, foodies, environmentalists, and public health professionals. As Michael Grunwald wrote in a recent Time magazine story, “If you eat, drink, pay taxes–or care about the economy, the environment or our global reputation–U.S. agricultural policy is a big deal.”
Read the stories by Grunwald and Pollan to get a clear sense of the issues, or read this article by Cornell sociologist Emelie Peine to get a better sense of what all the language about subsidies and commodity crops means. Grist magazine adds a layer of perspective to the understanding of commodity subsidies here. The Boston Globe recently described the efforts of Senators Lugar and Lautenberg to amend the current bill; and you can read here for one perspective about another proposed amendment by Senators Dorgan and Grassley.
Farm Bill critics contend that if the bill passes the Senate as is, large farm consolidation will continue, as will the tendency towards monocrops, confined animal feeding operations (known as CAFO’s or factory farms), and cheap calories in the form of highly processed food.
What can chefs do? Learn more by checking out some of the organizations working hard on Farm Bill reform. They include the Community Food Security Coalition, the Environmental Working Group, Oxfam America and the American Farmland Trust. You can keep supporting local food producers and Buy Local campaigns, you can call your senator to voice your opinion, you can tell the media what you think, and you can join Chefs Collaborative as a pledge to keep the momentum for local and sustainable foods going until the next time the Farm Bill is up for reauthorization: 2012.
photo: Iowa State University