farm bill series

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…” 

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).

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).  

FSNYC Farm Bill Policy Series

Want to learn more about the farm bill? Check out the links below to all of our contributors fantastic articles in FSNYC's Farm Bill Series:

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.

The Great Soda Debate in New York City

by Jason Machowsky, MS, RD and Viktoriya Syrov
November 3, 2010

Soda CansOn October 7, Mayor Michael R. Blooomberg and Governor David A. Paterson submitted a proposal to the USDA to ban the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages with food stamps in New York City for a trial run of two years. The proposal ignited a major public debate: on one side, the public health advocates who support the reasoning behind the initiative, and, on the other, anti-hunger advocates who feel that limiting freedom of choice is not the answer to the obesity epidemic.

Rationale for the ban includes:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages contain large amounts of sugar and are largely devoid of nutritional value
  • Compared to 1980, Americans are consuming 200 to 300 extra calories each day, half of which come from sugar-sweetened beverages. These extra calories have resulted in significantly increased obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates, particularly across low-income individuals.
  • The proposal reflects the USDA’s own approach to the National School Lunch, National School Breakfast and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, which already include only healthier foods and exclude sugar-sweetened beverages.


First FSNYC Policy Committee Meeting

posted by Nadia Johnson, Just Food, and Mo Kinberg, UFCW Local 1500
A major NYC food policy opportunity is coming up! The Manhattan Borough President's (MBP) initiative—The Politics of Food Conference—will be held on Wednesday, November 19th from 8:30am-2pm at Columbia University's Lerner Hall. Maya Wiley, UN General Assembly President Father Miguel D'Escoto, and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg are among the featured speakers. One of the goals of the Conference is to produce short and long-term policy solutions for NYC in the following areas:

Sierra Club NYC: Factoring Sustainable Ag into Climate Change

Posted by Holly Emma, FSNYC Communications Committee

New York City is off to a great start on dealing with climate change through PlaNYC, but Sierra Club implores us to go further. The Sierra Club report, “Sustainable Energy Independence for New York City,” asks City officials to create a Task Force that will study potential local impacts and mitigations of energy volatility, and to require consideration of energy volatility in all City agency budgeting and planning decisions.
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