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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 Future – Final Post (part 10)

Uploaded: May 21, 2023

We’ve been reading and discussing Dan Imhoff’s book, Food Fight - The Citizens Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill. Since our first post in February

Farm Bill. Not Sexy. Really Matters

it’s been a lively discussion with 115+ comments and thoughts you have shared. Thanks for joining in.

Turning the Tables, the last section of the book, is our final post on the book. Chapter 23 begins:

The Farm Bill is one of those topics where once you start pulling the string, you find the whole world is attached. That’s because the Farm Bill sets the rules of the game, influencing not only what we eat, but also who grows it, under what conditions, and how much it costs. The agribusiness and food manufacturing lobbying organizations that have in essence written those rules for our legislators in recent decades deserve the lion’s share of the responsibility for shaping the present state of our food system and its tangle of critical problems.

The good news is that, to a large extent, the ideas needed to turn the tables and create a health-focused food and farming system already exist. They share a common condition: Most are ignored, marginalized, or underfunded by current Farm Bill programs. And yet, momentum is there. (pg. 186 )

Imhoff lists 25 Ideas Whose Time Has Come, including:

1. Aligning Farm Bill crop supports to USDA dietary guidelines.
2. Conservation programs that reward stewardship and sound farming rather than surplus production.
3. Establishing income eligibility limits on farm supports with no loopholes.
4. Incentives for a grass-based livestock economy with the goal of shifting 50% away from feedlots in 30 years.
5. Using more crop rotation, cover crops and alternatives to replace synthetic fertilizers.
6. Creating a 50-year Farm Bill of perennial, ecologically based farming.

He also offers a3-step Activist Tool Kit:

Step One: Stay up to date
Use these organizations to follow news on the Farm Bill (partial list)

Environmental Working Group

Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Step Two: Get Involved
Contact these organizations to join the effort of influence (partial list)

Environmental Defense Fund

National Resources Defense Council

American Farmland Trust

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Step Three: Take it to the Hill
Tell your legislators what you want to see in the Farm Bill, especially anyone on these committees:

House Committee on Agriculture

House Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management

House Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture

House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry

House Committee on Appropriations

Senate Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy
Chair: Peter Welch (D – Vermont)

Senate Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources
Chair: Michael Bennet (D – Colorado)

Senate Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops and Organics, and Research
Chair: John Fetterman (D - Pennsylvania)

Senate Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, Food Safety and Security
Chair: Kirsten Gillibrand (D – New York)

I’ll share some disappointment. I wrote a short but sweet note in early February to my House Representative asking how California’s 16th district can be more involved in the Farm Bill, but have not heard back. I’ve always got a response to past letters and still hope to hear. If that information comes, we’ll report back.

Food Partiers! – It’s still all about Action. Farm Bill 2023 is being written now for possible release in the fall. Send a letter to your representatives. Give a call. Imhoff reminds the time for a Food Fight has arrived.

Together we can make a great meal, and a great difference.

- Photos courtesy of LSIC

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Yolanda Jackson, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on May 21, 2023 at 11:16 am

Yolanda Jackson is a registered user.

Healthy eating habits aside, it is far more important that the USDA increase the SNAP (food stamp allowance) back to the 2020-2022 COVID amounts because many poorer families are now starving due to the cutbacks.

Why should the poor continue to go hungry while wealthy people arrogantly and pompously dine at fancy, overpriced fusion-themed restaurants?

This is so wrong.

Posted by Cale Winslow, a resident of Woodside,
on May 21, 2023 at 12:41 pm

Cale Winslow is a registered user.

> "It's still all about Action."

The majority party House of Representatives as part of the 2023 federal debit compromise are proposing that all able-bodied Americans under 55 work for their SNAP benefits, roughly 20 hours per week.

Unless child day-care issues pose an unresolvable obstacle, this is not an unreasonable mandate.

80 hours of community service work times minimum wage ($15.00/ hour) comes to $1200.00, more than enough to feed a family of four.

Take action.

Posted by Mavis Templeton, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on May 22, 2023 at 7:56 am

Mavis Templeton is a registered user.

All of this discussion is moot unless the 2023 federal budget can be agreed upon by Congress.

Posted by Ryan Tanner, a resident of Stanford,
on May 23, 2023 at 8:00 am

Ryan Tanner is a registered user.

Encouraging edible crops that require minimal irrigation should also be a primary focus of the Farm Bill.

As far as influencing what we consume, eating healthy does not always equate to
flavor which explains why an overabundance of salt, refined sugar, and fat are key ingredients of the foods we consume as true Americans. For those arriving from other countries, they will eventually adapt to our national food culture and join the ranks of the obese which is now comprises 40% of the American population.

Welcome to America and live well.

Posted by Erica Lange, a resident of Woodside,
on May 24, 2023 at 7:53 am

Erica Lange is a registered user.

Space and water providing, people should be encouraged to grow their own fruits and vegetables or participate in community gardens.

BTW, it is the excessive consumption of carbohydrates that make people obese.

Posted by Bryce Leake, a resident of Menlo Park,
on May 24, 2023 at 9:44 am

Bryce Leake is a registered user.

Let's do the math...40% of Americans are considered obese and the current U.S. population is approximately 365 million.

That means there are roughly 144 million obese people in America.

Judging by what I've seen in public, that % sounds about right.

The Farm Bill should encourage better eating choices but good luck trying to convey that message.

Posted by Logically Speaking, a resident of Midtown,
on May 24, 2023 at 1:12 pm

Logically Speaking is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Melba Cross, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on May 24, 2023 at 3:29 pm

Melba Cross is a registered user.

I think the word obese will eventually be replaced by a more academia-inspired term like BMI Challenged (BMIC).

Posted by Penelope Walters, a resident of another community,
on May 25, 2023 at 8:22 am

Penelope Walters is a registered user.

Weight gain can also be attributed to the prescription and use of certain pharmaceuticals.

The Farm Bill advocates should team-up with the FDA to promote healthy foods and pharmaceuticals that are both safe and nutritious with minimal side effects.

Posted by Judy Blach, a resident of Los Altos,
on May 25, 2023 at 12:30 pm

Judy Blach is a registered user.

Being obese is a personal choice based on poor eating habits and food choices.

Posted by Patricia Morrow, a resident of Professorville,
on May 26, 2023 at 9:47 am

Patricia Morrow is a registered user.

I am more concerned about food safety. Does the Farm Bill address that?

Posted by Melissa.Williams, a resident of Menlo Park,
on May 26, 2023 at 4:06 pm

Melissa.Williams is a registered user.

• "I am more concerned about food safety."

The parameters for food safety include safe irrigation, safe handling, safe cooking, and safe storage (refrigeration/freezing).

We never eat at salad bars anymore because of safe handling concerns regarding fresh produce.

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