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Food Security, Clean Environment and Diversity at Stake in Farm Bill

November 2007

The Farm Bill is one of the last major pieces of legislation that will make it to the floor of the Senate during the current legislative season, which makes it a ripe target for political maneuvering and special-interest pork.

Grassroots is working with a coalition of allies to fight for farming policies that will protect the human right to food, support family farmers in the United States and abroad and build a healthier food and farming system for consumers, communities and the environment.

The Senate’s plan to set aside $25 million for locally-sourced food aid is a big win for family farmers in some of the world’s poorest regions, but there is a lot that is still at stake in this farm bill.

The Diversity Initiative (in which Grassroots is working with the Rural Coalition, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the National Family Farm Coalition, among others) has called on the Senate to make sure that socially disadvantaged farmers receive their fair share of the resources provided in the farm bill. The USDA has admitted discriminating against African American farmers in the past and other farmers of color have come forward in recent years to report similar abuses. We’re calling on our representatives to fix this. You can get more information about the Diversity Initiative on the website of the Rural Coalition.

Grassroots is also part of a coalition that has been calling attention to the human and environmental costs of agrofuels, which are already having serious negative effects on rural communities around the world. Some politicians have suggested moving the controversial benchmarks for U.S. production and purchase of ethanol and biodiesel from the Energy Bill to the Farm Bill, where they hope it will attract less attention. Along with groups like the Friends of the Earth and Food First, we have serious concerns about what the industrial-scale production of biofuels will mean to rural communities and hungry people everywhere.

We will keep you posted on any developments in these or other related areas of the farm bill.

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