Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The 2007 Farm Bill - the Push is On to Change the Way the Nation Subsidizes Farming

Organic farming, conservation, healthful food in schools -- the push is on to change the way the nation subsidizes farming
It was almost accidental activism. Acme Bread's Steve Sullivan was on a class trip to Washington, D.C., with his 13-year-old daughter when their flight home was canceled. A scramble to rebook ended with the Berkeley food artisan and his family seated almost across the aisle from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

So he handed her a copy of his new favorite book, "Food Fight," by Sonoma County author Daniel Imhoff. The book is a call to arms, urging Congress to use the 2007 farm bill to put more healthful food on people's plates.

The bill, which in recent years has totaled about $70 billion annually, comes up about once every five years. Although the farm bill has far-reaching consequences for the food supply, most people outside the Midwestern Farm Belt, which gets huge farm bill subsidies, have ignored it.

This year, things are different. Sullivan's trip down the aisle, and the book, are part of a wave of populist activism, much of it centered in the Bay Area, that is trying to change how a big chunk of farm bill money is spent.

The short version of the argument -- and nothing is short when it comes to the mind-numbing, complex farm bill -- is that the bill subsidizes the overproduction of corn and soy in the Midwest, which is driving up obesity and diabetes and polluting the land. Instead, they say, the farm bill should put more money into sustainable and organic food production, agricultural conservation and efforts to put a higher priority on fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

For the rest of this article, please visit: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/...

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