For most of us, when the topic of the farm bill comes up, what do we think of? Subsidies? Ethanol? Politicians? As Georgia Organics engages more in policy advocacy, we want to not only provide our members with a better understanding of the Farm Bill, but also mobilize our community around ways to improve it.
Georgia Organics wants a Farm Bill that strives for a more democratic, sustainable food and farm economy; one that moves us from a commodity-based system to one that is more community-based.
No matter who you are, if you eat, then you need to engage in the conversation shaping the 2012 Farm Bill, which is happening NOW. So let’s start with the basics.
Look to your right. That nifty chart gives you an idea of how the funding authorized in the Farm Bill – about $284 billion over 5 years – breaks down.
The Farm Bill as a major policy of the United States has roots in the 1930s, when Congress passed the very first price support legislation. This was done to keep farmers from losing their land during the Great Depression. (The Congressional Research Service however officially attributes the first Farm Bill to the Food and Agriculture Act of 1965.)
Since that time, the Farm Bill, authorized roughly every five years, has become a dynamic, all-encompassing policy guiding everything from food stamps to bioenergy to, most recently, organic farming.
The Farm Bill is divided into 15 major titles, or sections, each covering programs and subsequent funding. The Farm Bill is written by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees – with funding determined by the Appropriations Committees. Ultimately, every member of Congress votes to reauthorize the Farm Bill.
So, where we are now?
The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill in June 2012. Click here to read the version that passed the Senate.
The bill is currently awaiting action in the House. On July 5, 2012, a draft was released that looks…well, bleak. Read a brief overview of the draft here from our trusted national partner on the Hill, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.