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The Farm Bill backlash

(article, Culinate staff)

Recently, food activists have gotten pretty agitato over the fact that Congress has been trying to sneak a new Farm Bill into law without due legislative review. 

So far, however — as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Minnesota Independent, among others, have reported — there's been enough protest to stall the new bill.

As Twilight Greenaway pointed out on Grist, the bill's proposed $23 billion in subsidy cuts would negatively impact America's food and farms while leaving big ag relatively unscathed. 

And as a recent Oxfam America article explained, nobody should approve of this rushed Farm Bill:

bq. If you’re a Tea Party supporter, you probably shouldn’t like this deal because:

# It is a back-room deal negotiated without any public scrutiny.
# It cuts less wasteful spending than other proposals.
# The $23 billion in proposed cuts could shrink dramatically if the volatile agriculture markets or increasingly volatile weather swings production or prices in a new direction.
# It authorizes the government to pick certain industries/commodities as winners over others.

bq. If you’re an OWS supporter, you shouldn’t like this deal because:

# It was negotiated to satisfy high-powered industry lobbies that pay lots of money to influence the Ag Committee.
# It's a giveaway to big industrial farms at the expense of family farmers.
# It promotes unhealthy, unsustainable farming practices at the expense of sustainable farming.
# It targets conservation and nutrition programs for cuts disproportionately.

But is protesting congressional shenanigans the right tactic? As a recent Food & Water Watch posting on AlterNet declared, the real issue may not be federal farm subsidies at all:

bq. So if the most often-cited example of farm subsidies is about to end, does that mean we’re on our way to a food system that makes broccoli more affordable than fast-food burgers? It’s not quite that simple. As we describe in a new report, released this week with the Public Health Institute, subsidies are not making junk food cheaper and more abundant than healthy food  — the real culprit is the deregulation of agriculture markets, the failure to enforce anti-trust law, and the millions spent on marketing junk food.