Originally posted November 2 on the Food and Community Fellows Fresh Ideas Blog
by Mark Muller
The projected course of action regarding the Farm Bill changed dramatically over the past two weeks. The general expectation was a spring 2012 Farm Bill, with the possibility that Presidential election politics would push things back to potentially 2013. Now it seems that the odds-on favorite is to have a Farm Bill introduced any day now as part of the super committee budget reduction process.
As IATP’s Ben Lilliston described last week, the super committee process would throw democracy and transparency out the window -
"The 12-member Super Committee will consider these recommendations in secret. Then, the Super Committee’s proposal on the Farm Bill will be presented after November 23 and put to a simple up or down vote in December. No hearings, no amendments, no debate. Under this scenario, we may have very little idea about what is in the Farm Bill until after it has passed."
What are our options at this point? Clearly this isn’t a “business as usual” Farm Bill process, and our usual tactics of creating coalitions of family farm, conservation and public health groups are insufficient. Congressional leaders will be forcing members to have one up or down vote on an enormous piece of debt reduction legislation, and no input will be allowed from most of the elected officials that we count on for an effective democratic process.
Our best – and perhaps only – option is to make more noise with more voices. While the number of people that have a clear position on issues such as direct payments, SNAP and CRP is limited, eating is universal. And many of those eaters are particularly cautious about food and diet because they care for children, or have a family member with health concerns, or have health concerns of their own.
IATP Food and Community alum Nicole Betancourt and her colleagues at ParentEarth have done amazing work increasing parents’ awareness of the Farm Bill through video. Watch this video and pass it along. Stay up-to-date on health-related Farm Bill issues through Healthy Food Action. Join Understanding the Farm Bill on Facebook. And make it clear to your federally elected officials that a secret Farm Bill will not be tolerated. They will be hearing from us!