Support Sustainable Farming Practices
June 26, 2007
Take Action: Support Sustainable Farming
by Alison Rogers
Of the many issues facing Americans today, few are more important
than the quality and safety of our food. Every day, many eat more and
more processed, high-calorie foods with little nutritive value,
trucked to us from thousands of miles away.
Why? Because those foods are more affordable. And why are they more
affordable, considering all the processing, packaging and
transportation? Because the companies that produce them receive
financial assistance from us in the form of subsidies authorized by
the U.S. farm bill. Over the past decade, U.S. citizens paid more
than $165 billion in tax dollars to the largest 20 percent of farms,
according to the Environmental Working Group ( http://www.ewg.org/ ).
These farms operate on such a massive scale that limited attention
can be focused on maximizing the health benefits of their product,
and contamination is often unavoidable. (Learn more about subsidies
and the unhealthy effects of current U.S. farm policy in How Farm
Policy Affects Us All
The results are clear--those on low and middle income budgets have
little choice but to stock up on foods that are typically full of
preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup and sodium
An obesity epidemic is well underway, and food-borne illness
outbreaks make frequent headlines. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture ( http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome ) is funding the
foods they advise us to use sparingly (oils and sweets), while
leaving fruits and vegetables out even though they recommend five to
nine daily servings of those two items combined.
Support for local organic family farms is the key to reversing these
unhealthy trends. You'll benefit from fresh, preservative- and
chemical-free products, and by shopping close to home, you'll do your
part to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated by transporting
food across the country. (More on the advantages of local food can be
found in Growing Trust
and How to Find the Best Food
As you read this, the House of Representatives
http://www.house.gov/ is crafting the 2007 farm bill, which will
replace the 2002 bill that is set to expire September 30. They are
allocating funds and determining how your taxes will be spent, and
they need to know that although less than 2 percent of the U.S.
population now farms, we all eat and we want healthy food. You can
keep an eye on the latest farm bill developments at www.farmpolicy.com
( http://www.farmpolicy.com/ ).
Already, funding has been slashed for valuable programs such as the
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
Better known as ATTRA, this is an excellent
resource that provides sustainable agriculture and organic farming
news; events and funding opportunities; and publications on
production practices, innovative marketing and organic certification.
On June 4, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House
Committee on Agriculture
http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/2007FarmBill.html gave his
opinion of the 255,000 farmers with 10 acres or less: "They're not
real farmers. They're city people."
Want to help? Talk to your representatives. You can find their
contact info at www.house.gov ( http://www.house.gov/ ). Let us know
how they respond by posting a comment below.
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