The Farm Bill supercommittee is rushing through legislation that effects the next five years of most things food-wise in America.
With no public input whatsoever, a congressional supercommittee of four people plans to pass legislation that would gut food stamps, favor industrial-scale commodity farming quenched with GMOs through funding. If passed it will defund transitions to organic farming and funding to help communities start farmers markets.
The Farm Bill, a piece of legislation that gets reauthorized every five years, is being rushed ahead of schedule to squeeze it into the deficit reduction plan. According to The Nation, the Farm Bill is “sometimes called the food bill because of its enormous influence over what Americans (especially children) eat,” what our food costs at the grocery store and when exported, what foods are safe (GMOs), “and whether 45 million impoverished Americans (again, about half of them children) continue to receive food stamps.”
Ken Cook heads the Environmental Working Group, “an NGO that that has embarrassed corporate farmers by publicizing how much taxpayer money they receive in crop subsidies, sometimes for land that hasn’t been farmed in years”, again according to the Nation. Cook says, “If these are truly great ideas, let’s discuss them openly,” adding that his organization is mobilizing its 1.1 million followers and other parts of the food movement to say, in the words of a new TV ad, No Secret Farm Bill.
We spend 2.2 trillion a year on health care — over five times more than the defense budget — and we spend more money per person on our health care than any country in the world. Yet we grow sicker year by year.
Why could this be?
In 1973, the U.S. congress passed a farm subsidy bill. Among other things, it included mass incentives for corn production. One of the major causes of this surplus was a product you might know called high fructose corn syrup. It can be added to soda-pop, barbeque sauce, hotdog buns: literally anything, except whole foods.
Some scientists and medical researchers suggest that the doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.
This is a time of an infamously high deficit and not-so-famous record farm incomes. In 2007 net farm income was $70 billion with 17% coming from the fed; now in 2011 net income is $103.6 billion with 10% from the fed.
According to Politico, federal crop insurance subsidies this year are the highest ever recorded, which means a lot more of the status quo.
The accelerated timetable now is driven by the August debt accords, under which a newly created House-Senate select deficit panel or supercommittee is charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in 10-year savings next month.
For the House and Senate Agriculture committees, which had planned to write a new farm bill in 2012, it’s a nightmare situation in which their jurisdiction will be subject to cuts in advance, all written by a panel with little knowledge of farm policy.
The most important issue here is that the writers of the bill are skipping around the democratic process by rushing its uptake.
If we keep eating the same processed muck churned out by restaurant chains across the country, bought from the same industrial farms that could care less about food quality so long as it passes inspection, our health care costs are going to rise and the problem will continue to compound.
HuffPo reports that ”Leaders of the two panels are planning to submit their plan to cut up to $23 billion from agriculture funding to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the so-called Super Committee, next week. Their recommendations will likely cut billions of dollars from agricultural conservation programs, according to published reports on the discussions.”
“One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive, the other three quarters keeps your doctor alive.” – an Egyptian proverb.