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A different bill of rights

(article, Culinate staff)

With all the grumbling lately about debt ceilings and budget crises, spending money on better food and farms isn't exactly at the top of the priority list for most Americans. But that's not stopping Earl Blumenauer, a Congressional representative from Oregon, from wading into the debate over the Farm Bill once more. 

The last time the Farm Bill was up for review and renewal, in 2007, Blumenauer issued a Food and Farm Bill of Rights. The 10-point bill is wide-ranging, including not only the rights to federal farm policies that foster sustainability, local foods, energy independence, and a healthy environment, but the rights to policies ensuring that children are well-fed and that our food supply is safe. 

Now that the Farm Bill is up again for its five-year reassessment, Blumenauer is agitating for food-and-farms awareness once more:

bq. The Farm Bill may be the most important piece of legislation many people have never heard of. For years, big-agribusiness lobbyists have been working to keep people ignorant of government policies that grant lavish subsidies to a few wealthy corporations while denying assistance to 80 percent of Oregon farmers and ranchers. In addition to wasting taxpayer dollars, the current Farm Bill encourages the production of cheap, heavily processed foods that are simultaneously bad for the health of the consumer and the environment.

Will Americans — or, more to the point, Blumenauer's fellow members of Congress — listen this time around?