farm bill

Op-Ed: The Farm Bill Everyone Can Hate









Image: Economic Research Service, USDA

by Ed Yowell

February 5th, 2014


Food Stamps and the Farm Bill: Why should NYC care?



by Ed Yowell and Nadia Johnson, July 2013

photo: Getty Images


If you care about the right of everyone to have food to eat, you need to know about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program), and its place in the current Farm Bill deliberations.


The Farm Bill that Wasn't

by Ed Yowell

photo source:


For a lot of folks, 2012 was not much of a year.  New York City and environs suffered Hurricane Sandy, which may have convinced a few more of us about climate change and certainly demonstrated to all of us the fragility of our local food distribution systems.  Farmers and ranchers suffered the worst drought in more than half a century and devastating frosts.  They also suffered the 112th Congress, that, for the first time in the 75 year history of the Food and Farm Bill, failed to renew it, letting the 2008 bill lapse in September, 2012.  The 112th Congress, according to the Washington Post, was the least productive in more than 60 years and, according to the Huffington Post , “ended 2012 with a 15 percent average approval rating -- its lowest in history (and) began 2013 with a 14 percent approval rating.”  The Huffington Post continued, “...Public Policy Polling found that Congress was less liked than genocidal warlord Genghis Khan (and) cockroaches…” 

The Old One, Two for GMOs

A GMO Knockout?

by Ed Yowell

photo courtesy of Millions Against Monsanto


Know Your GMOs
Genetically Engineered (GE) foods, a.k.a. GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) or GM foods, are foods, meat and plants, modified through genetic engineering.  Although we have genetically modified animals for thousands of years, we did it through classical, selective breeding, over decades and even centuries.  Now, technology enables the transfer of genetic material from one organism to another to create different, ostensibly desirable, variations.  GMO foods are a source of continuing controversy about their long-term effects on; humans, wildlife, and our food chain (


FARM BILL 1.12: The Shortest Distance from here to a 2012 Food and Farm Bill may not be through this Congress

by Ed Yowell

August 3, 2012

The present 2008 Food and Farm Bill expires at the end of September, 2012… next month!  

The full Senate approved its version of the 2012 Food and Farm Bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, on Thursday June 21, 2012.  The Senate bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion. Historically, it reforms commodity programs…most significantly, ending direct payments to farmers.   And, largely because of amendments passed during a two day debate on the Senate floor, the Senate bill supports and reforms a number of important programs, including rural development and beginning farmer, soil and water conservation, crop insurance (subsidy limitations and crop insurance for organic and diversified farmers), commodity payments, and farm to school (pilot innovations).

Sat, July 7: Health, Hunger, and the Food and Farm Bill

Date: Saturday, July 7, 2012
Time: 10:30 am
Location: Union Square Park Pavilion (North End of Union Square, across from Barnes and Noble)

Food insecurity is as high as it's ever been in New York City. Obesity and other diet related diseases are costing our health system millions of dollars. And right now the Food and Farm Bill, the single biggest influence on the food supply in our country, is being negotiated in Congress. Come learn and join the discussion about what's happening right now and how it affects health and hunger in New York City and the country.

Sponsored by Greenmarket and the NYC Food and Farm Bill Working Group

With guest speakers:

  • Hannah Lupien, West Side Campaign Against Hunger
  • Theresa Powell, NYC Campaign Against Hunger
  • Elyse Powell, New York Academy of Medicine

Summer Food Reading: Compelling, Inspiring, Fun, Nutritious!

By Kerry Trueman

Here's a trio of new books that offer some sustainably minded summer reading:

  • Dan Imhoff's newly revised Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to the Next Farm Bill, a nifty paperback filled with compelling graphics, charts, and analysis that will get you up to speed on this eternally perplexing piece of legislation;
  • Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers' Movement , a compilation of essays by young farmers who offer firsthand accounts of the risks and rewards they've encountered in pursuit of their agrarian dreams;
  • Sandor Katz's comprehensive, definitive guide to all things fermented, The Art of Fermentation, which covers an astonishing range of fermented foods and promises to become an instant classic, with a foreword by Michael Pollan (who also wrote the forward for Food Fight).

Real Farm Bill Stories: The Conservation Title and the NYC Watershed

by Challey Comer

Photo: Cross River Resevoir, courtesy of

Cross River Resevoir, courtesy of @JoshDickphoto.comConservation programs that benefit rural farmers impact urban residents of New York City (NYC) by way of watershed management for the City’s water supply.  The NYC Watershed, a system of 19 reservoirs and 3 controlled lakes spanning from the lower Hudson Valley to the northern Catskills, utilizes programs within the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill through a public-private partnership.  The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) partners with the Watershed Agricultural Council (Council), a nonprofit organization located in the NYC Watershed.  The Council works with over 1,000 landowners in an eight-county region to implement conservation practices that protect the City’s drinking water quality.  For nearly 20 years, the Council has offered voluntary programs to farmers and forest landowners with funding support from DEP and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  

Farm Bill 1.10: Why the Next Food and Farm Bill Needs a Competition Title

by Yi Wang & Eric Weltman, Food and Water Watch
February 2012
American farm policy and corporate mergers have created powerful agribusiness giants with dominant market shares—corporations that control virtually every of segment of the industrial food system. A leading agricultural economist in 2002 concluded that consolidation across the food system has hurt farmers and consumers more than the efficiency gains it has generated.1  While monopolies and oligopolies have captured the bulk of the profits, small and midsized family farms have gotten squeezed out. Workers face exploitative conditions and consumers end up paying higher prices, with millions living in food deserts without access to fresh food.

There is a growing movement to (re)build food systems that are good, local, sustainable, and fair. Alternative certification schemes such as organic and Fair Trade and marketing channels such as farmers markets, food hubs, and community-supported agriculture (CSAs) offer practical examples of visions for a more equitable and sustainable food system. Unfortunately, voting with our wallets and forks alone is not enough. As the ‘alternative food movement’ works at the local level to restore links between consumers and farmers, urban and rural, and to secure justice and rights for workers, we must also address the rules that govern the food system. The next Farm Bill presents a critical opportunity to chip away at the power of agribusiness and to build fair and sustainable local food systems.

Farm Bill 1.09: The Food and Farm Bill, Now What?

by Mark Dunlea 1/10/12 The Food and Farm Bill is up for renewal, something that occurs about once every five years. The Farm Bill is how the federal government sets overall food and agricultural policy for the country…to a great extent it determines what we eat and how it is produced. Until recently, the Farm Bill was on a fast track, slated to be passed in December as part of the late Super Committee process. Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, arguing that they understood the needs of rhe farming community, undertook proposing $23 billion in Farm Bill Ag budget cuts over ten years to help meet the nation’s deficit reduction goals.


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