(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2007) Farm and environmental groups are calling on Congress to make organic and family farming priorities in the 2007 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill provides hundreds of billions of dollars to the agricultural sector, but groups believe the subsidies, which primarily support large, chemical-intensive agribusiness, are distributed poorly and are wasting taxpayer dollars. Groups say that research priorities and other incentives must support the shift to organic and assist with compliance under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA).
This week, both the Senate and House Budget Committees will be marking up their respective versions of the U.S. budget for 2008. This budget resolution will determine how much money will be available to the Agriculture Committees for the 2007 Farm Bill that covers the next five years, and to the Appropriations Committees for agricultural funding for 2008. The National Organic Coalition (NOC), including the Rural Advancement Fund International, Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides and others, is promoting an agenda that seeks equity for organic production under USDA programs. Read NOC Testimony regarding 2008 Appropriations Requests.
California Coalition for Food and Farming (CCFF), joined by Pesticide Action Network North American and others, has created a Farm Bill policy platform (full version and summary) that embraces a vision for a more just and sustainable agriculture and food system, including the following priorities:
- Provides farmers the support they need to protect our water, air, wildlife habitat, and farmland by increasing funding and improving the effectiveness of conservation and technical assistance programs;
- Provides greater support for fruit and vegetable production, especially for small- and mid-sized producers, organic and sustainable agriculture, local and regional market development, and beginning and minority farmers; and,
- Increases access to fresh, local, healthy and nutritious foods, especially in limited resource communities of color, by investing in new retail, improving the quality and quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables served in schools, expanding farmers’ markets, and increasing the buying power of food stamp recipients, the elderly and consumers with limited income.
By contrast, the Farm Bill has historically focused on large agribusiness. According to the budget watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS), U.S. farm policy remains essentially unchanged since being established over 70 years ago as temporary assistance measures during the Great Depression. According to TCS, “Current farm policies no longer reflect the needs of America’s farmers, rural communities, consumers, or the tax paying public. Dominated by an array of payment programs shelling out billions of dollars to a handful of the biggest corporate farms, America’s farm policy has become the longest ongoing welfare program in the country””a welfare program that hurts the majority of farmers and non-farmers alike.” Read TCS’s facts on farm policy.
TAKE ACTION: Let Congress know you want to support sustainable agriculture in the U.S. with adequate funding. Please urge your Member of Congress and Senators to speak with the House and Senate leadership and Budget Committee members and urge them to increase funding for organic and family farms. Take action today to ensure that there is sufficient funding authorized in the 2007 Farm Bill to protect our environment and ensure sustainable, healthy food for all.