Farm Bill and the Environment - part 4 | The Food Party! | Laura Stec | Mountain View Online |

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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Farm Bill and the Environment - part 4

Uploaded: Feb 28, 2023

Land conservation and preservation concerns first showed up in the 1985 Farm Bill (pg. 57). Funds became available for farmers to NOT PLANT up to 37 million acres (approx. 10% of total U.S. farmed acreage) of any land that was “highly erodible.” Demand soared and each successive Farm Bill added more conservation programs, yet funding stays modest. Conservation allocations remain among the largest targets for the annual “hatchets” of Appropriations. (pg. 59)

- Courtesy of Food Fight (pg. 58)

Imhoff draws specific attention to how taxpayers’ foot the bill for Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs); massive hog farms, poultry factories and those huge cow lots that stink up CA Interstate 5. Home sweet home for most of the meat we eat. They can house hundreds of thousands of animals and produce sewage waste equivalent to a small city.

courtesy of Cool Cuisine, Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming

The 2002 and 2008 Farm Bill Conservation Titles showered hundreds of millions of dollars on CAFOs to clean up their act. Both Farm Bills mandated that 60% of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) budget be allocated to animal agriculture operators with the largest potential impact for remediation / cleanup. This gave preference to the worst offenders, over cleaner / smaller operations that also needed help, another knock to the family farm. CAFOs were eligible to receive 75% of expenses for animal waste hauling fees, storage facilities, and actions to comply with new government cleanup regulations. (up to $300,000 per owner) (reduced from the 2002 cap of $450,000) Meanwhile, projects with organic production benefits were capped at $20,000 annually or $80,000 in any 6-year period.” (pg. 60)

There’s still not a lot of public data about how much we the taxpayers shovel out to CAFOs. The Union of Concerned Scientists exposed in CAFOs Uncovered (2008) that the industry received at least $100 million per year from the Feds, just to clean up the environmental mess left over from their own businesses. Hmmm, I wonder how much SNAP recipients received that year?

Here are a few more environmental costs of our industrial agriculture system. Big Ag- propped up in 2023 by you, me, and the free-market (or not) Farm Bill.

- Courtesy of Food Fight (pg. 63)

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Kendra Locke, a resident of Community Center,
on Mar 1, 2023 at 8:11 am

Kendra Locke is a registered user.

Given the publicity it garners, shouldn't the Farm Aid concerts organized by the likes of Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and John Mellenkamp have more of an impact in promoting these issues?

I suspect that the majority of these past concerts like The Concert for Bangladesh, Live Aid, Farm Aid and others are primarily for entertainment purposes as very little of the gate proceeds actually goes towards the causes they are promoting due to production and promotion expenditures.

Posted by Bert Jacobs, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 3, 2023 at 8:22 am

Bert Jacobs is a registered user.

Providing there is adequate water and space, more Americans should be encouraged to cultivate World War II era 'Victory Gardens' as a supplement to food self-sufficiency.

My grandparents grew up on a small farm during the Great Depression and though times were hard, they never went hungry as compared with those who lived in the cities. They subsided on rabbits, chickens, and home-grown vegetables and fruits.

Posted by Tui Minh, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 4, 2023 at 9:37 am

Tui Minh is a registered user.

> more Americans should be encouraged to cultivate World War II era 'Victory Gardens' as a supplement to food self-sufficiency.

Is it permissable to use night soil in Palo Alto if the vegetables are only for personal consumption (i.e. family)?

Posted by Justin Carr, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 4, 2023 at 9:46 am

Justin Carr is a registered user.

@Tui many SE Asian countries, the use of night soil is comparable to applying Miracle-Gro and I am assuming that the City of Palo Alto has no control over what one uses as a fertilizer in his/her own private backyard as long as it does not involve the cultivation of illegal flora.

Posted by Crescent Park Rez, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 4, 2023 at 4:39 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

Thank you for writing about the Farm Bill. Do you know how much "big ag" is there in California? Our state produces about 50% of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the US, but are those "big ag" farms or mid-sized and small farms? Any idea how much money from the Farm Bill gets directed to CA versus great plains states?

Posted by Laura Stec, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Mar 5, 2023 at 8:57 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

@Crescent PAak Rez, I'd like to know the answer to your questions too. We know that fruits and vegetables don't get much $$ from the Farm Bill as they are considered "specialty crops." Most Farm Bill crop money goes to grains and commodities

In regards to your second question: I'm waiting for a response to an email sent to one of our local government leaders which might shed some light on the answer. I'll report back when I hear back.

Posted by Genevieve Peters, a resident of Atherton,
on Mar 5, 2023 at 9:57 am

Genevieve Peters is a registered user.

Does the USDA subsidize Mexico in any manner based on the large percentage of fresh produce it exports to the United States?

Seasonal fruits and vegetables previously grown in the United States are now readily available thanks to Mexican agricultural production.

What this means now is that much of the agricultural land in California can now be converted residential subdivisions to shelter the homeless population, provide affordable housing for lower-income families, and to accommodate newly arrived immigrants from abroad.

My family has owned large parcels of agricultural land in the Central Valley for decades and we have been advised to sell it off to the highest bidder (aka a developer) for a massive windfall with minimal capital gains tax.

Why not?

Posted by Crescent Park Rez, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 6, 2023 at 6:34 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

@Genevieve Peters. The Farm Bill does not provide subsidies to Mexico. Anything that might be considered an indirect subsidy would be in a trade agrement. Regarding your question concerning selling off your land for development, that's a personal/family decision. There is an enormous push right now to not have ag land turned into development for numerous reasons including the climate benefits that would come from turning the ag land into open space/park.

Posted by Crescent Park Rez, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 6, 2023 at 6:35 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

@Laura Stec. Thank you!

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