Q: How do I get what I want into the 2012 Farm Bill (and why do I care?)
A: Join 40,000 and call your elected officials TODAY to protest the "Secret Farm Bill"
For whatever reason, I have difficulty picking up the phone to call my elected officials to voice my opinion. I know I'm not alone: do my fellow U.S. readers take advantage of the power you have as a citizen?
Starting today, all that will change. The reason why? I have heard over and over from good food folks that if more people voiced their opinion about food policy in the United States, then food policy would inevitably change.
Specifically, this week NY Times columnist Mark Bittman explained clearly that a group of 4 senators from the midwest may succeed at shaping farm, food, subsidy, and environmental policy for the next 5 years by co-opting the democratic process and submitting their version of the Farm Bill as part of the deficit package being voted on this fall.
Mark Bittman says,
"The farm bill is written every five years. Although the current one doesn’t expire until September, the next one may be all but wrapped up by your first bite of turkey, because the leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees — a group of four, representing Oklahoma, Michigan, Minnesota and Kansas (do you see a pattern here?) — are working feverishly to draw up a proposal in time to submit it to the supercommittee before the Nov. 23 deadline...If recommendations by the four farm-state people are folded into the supercommittee’s deficit reduction package, and that package passes, we could see five more years of food policy signed into law without so much as a spirited debate."
Ready to take action right now? Food Democracy Now makes it really easy, so easy in fact that I've copied their script below so you don't even have to click the link.
And what happens if we all take action and these senators don't succeed at co-opting the Farm Bill? There's still more we can do, so I'm going to have to get over my shyness.
This week, one of my favorite orgs., the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas, posted a helpful guide to the parts of the Farm Bill that those of us who want fair, organic, local easily available for all to choose may want to pay attention to.
If you're still not convinced, then I suggest you watch this talk from TedxManhattan: Changing the Way We Eat in NYC. Ken Cook, the head of the Environmental Working Group gave this truly inspiring talk:
His message is that if everyone called their representatives every day until they voted on the Farm Bill, then we would change the Farm Bill.
If you're too shy to call, then here is a petition you can sign at Food and Water Watch.
Food Democracy's script to protest the "secret" Farm Bill:
Hi, my name is _______ I'm calling to put an end to corporate greed and say "No" to the Secret Farm Bill. Rushing this vital piece of legislation behind closed doors is unfair and undemocratic.
Please tell Congressman / Senator _____ that I care about America's family farmers and support the right to an open and transparent Food and Farm Bill and that they should pass the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 1773, H.R. 3286) instead of the Secret Farm Bill.
Senate Ag Committee Leadership:
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) - Chair of Senate Agricultural Committee - call: (202) 224-4822
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) Ranking Member Senate Agriculture Committee - call: (202) 224-4774
House Ag Committee Leadership:
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK) Chair House Committee on Agriculture - call: 202-225-5565
Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) Former Chair House Committee on Agriculture - call: (202) 225-2165
Additional Congressional Leadership - please call to tell leadership you disapprove of this corrupt, backroom process.
Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) Speaker of the House (202) 225-6205
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D - CA) Minority Leader (202) 225-4965
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) Senate Majority Leader (202)-224-3542
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-MS) Senate Minorty Leader (202) 224-2541
If you feel like calling more members of the Senate or House Ag Committees to tell the to Kill the Secret Farm Bill click on the links below.
Members of the Senate Ag Committee:
Members of the House Ag Committee:
Kill the Secret Farm Bill, Food Democracy Now
Farm Bill 2012 Action Alert, Sustainable Food Center
Take Action for a Fair Farm Bill, Food and Water Watch
Farm Bill, Farm Bill, Farm Bill, Blah, Blah, Blah (Food & Tech Connect's great compillation of 5 visually interesting and informative data about the Farm Bill)
Environmental Working Group's take on the Farm Bill
Farm Bill Budget Visualizer, Center for a Livable Future
Farm Bill 2012: Time for an Overhaul with Innovative Farming Systems, by Joanna Zelman, Huffington Post, 5/12/11
Sources For This Blog Post (Not Already Listed Above)