The tidal wave of American interest in local, sustainable agriculture, and the waves of protest around the world over staggering food prices, seem to have washed over the heads of most members of Congress without them even noticing. The 2008 Farm Bill proves it.
In a short reflection piece, Ben Burkett, president of the National Family Farm Coalition, calls the new farm bill “an abysmal disappointment for those seeking solutions” to the global food crisis, the state of factory farms, and the need for more support of small-scale farmers in the U.S. He notes in particular that grain reserves, virtually non-existent here but essential in times of crisis, were not strengthened by the bill, and that meat packers are still allowed to own vast numbers of livestock (thereby strengthening corporate control of agriculture).
Grassroots International shares Burkett’s belief that this year’s farm bill was “a wasted chance” and that Congress continues to largely support the agribusiness platform. But as the world’s attention is focused more on food, in all its many forms, we and our partners will continue to build safe, just, locally-structured food systems that bring food sovereignty to ordinary people and that end the grip that agribusinesses have over all of our lives.
It’s none too early to begin to strengthen a growing and more powerful coalition to ensure that the 2012 Farm Bill is not simply more pork. That’s what we’ll be doing over the next years and we hope that you’ll join us. Onwards towards a peoples’ Farm Bill in 2012!