So, what does the Farm Bill have to do with you? Everything. As we see obesity and chronic disease escalate to epic proportions, we have to ask ourselves: why? As I have discussed in my “The Weight of the Nation” piece, the answer to that question is very complex. But we all know, food and agriculture is a huge piece of the equation.
The Farm Bill is basically the primary agriculture and food policy of our federal government. Simply stated: it makes the rules and programs for all things related to food and determines funding related to them. Every five years our lawmakers change, amend, or add things to this Bill. It can include things from research to marketing, conservation to trade, and a whole lot more. The current version is known as the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.
So, I ask you again: What does the Farm Bill have to do with you? Last I checked, everyone eats food. And, if you’re working in this industry, the people you are working with are also eating food. Although you may or may not be an expert in the field of food science or nutrition, you still need to understand how the implications of the Farm Bill will affect you and the clientele you work with. You also need to understand how the decisions are made to determine what goes into this Bill are made.
Issues currently under consideration for the updated version of the Farm Bill include things like reduced safety measures, genetically modified foods, and cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I am not saying I agree or disagree with these measures. What I’m saying is, you need to know what’s going on. The quality and availability of fresh, nutritious foods is paramount for healthy living. If this Farm Bill does not expand the scope and access to this, our government is basically saying “no, we aren’t concerned with the health of our nation”.
What the Farm Bill has said yes to in the past is influence. Food & Water Watch is a non-profit food safety organization. They have estimated that business, commodity groups, and food manufacturers spent 173.5 million dollars on the 2008 Farm Bill. I wonder how much the fruits and vegetable growers spent? United Fresh, the United Fresh Produce Association would probably know.
The bottom line is, I can’t imagine much other legislation (maybe a couple of topics) that could possibly be more important to the health and well-being of our country. Citizens, especially those who work in professions like ours, need to be educated about this topic and talk with their representatives about the need for good legislation that promotes health and well-being and not just big business.
Use this tool created by The Center for Science in the Public Interest to contact your representative.