Whew! Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted down the House version (H.R. 2) —of the Farm Bill, a bill that would cripple conservation programs that promote organic and regenerative agriculture practices.
Unfortunately, this terrible Farm Bill was defeated for reasons that have nothing to do with food or agriculture. Worse yet, it will be back. The House is set to vote on H.R. 2 again, on June 22.
Meanwhile, we're waiting to see what's in the Senate’s Farm Bill, which could be just as bad for organic standards as the House version. The Senate is also expected to vote in June. But unlike the House version, the Senate’s bill will be bipartisan—which means it’s sure to pass.
URGENT ACTION NEEDED! Tell your Senators to protect strong organic standards and regenerative agriculture in the Farm Bill!
The Farm Bill is legislation Congress passes once every five years to determine how $900 billion in tax dollars is spent each year on food and farming. The last Farm Bill, passed in 2014, kept food on the table. Still, it can rightly be blamed for much of what’s wrong with our food system, including:
• It’s why Twinkies are cheaper than veggies. Subsidising junk food makes companies like Monsanto rich, while devastating the health of average Americans. Studies show that adults who eat more subsidized food commodities are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease or suffer a stroke.
• It’s why there’s a massive deadzone in the Gulf of Mexico and why Dust Bowl conditions are returning to the Great Southern Plains.
• It’s how billionaire landowners collect the tax dollars of hard working Americans, while food-insecure families struggle to feed themselves with $1.40 per person per meal.
That said, the 2014 Farm Bill also contained important conservation programs that promote the organic and regenerative agriculture practices needed to clean up our waterways, ensure safe drinking water, and increase soil carbon sequestration for food security and the climate.
Those programs suggest that the reason our our food system is so messed up isn’t because we don’t know what to do. It’s because past Farm Bills have spent too much money on the wrong things, and not enough money on the right things.
It’s time to turn this around. Fortunately, there are a few members of Congress who agree, and are leading the way. Our better Farm Bill hero is Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) who introduced his Food and Farm Act last year.
We’re holding out hope that dysfunction in the House will force Congress to extend the 2014 Farm Bill and give us another chance for a better Farm Bill, when the new Congress takes office in 2019.
Until then, we have to make clear to Congress, and the Senate especially, that we’re not going to accept a Farm Bill that’s even worse than the one we’ve already got.
Tell your Senators: Don’t mess with organic!