contract fairness

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 1.08

Subsidizing the National Breadbasket
By Abby Youngblood and Ed Yowell

A Little Farm Subsidy History
During the Great Depression, rural poverty and non-rural hunger were profound.  The nation’s first Farm Bill, the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act, was a part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.  In it, commodity crop-specific price and income support programs were established to assist farmers economically and to help feed the hungry.  Since that time, these supports have been a core part of agricultural policy in the United States, comprising the most significant portion of the “farm safety net.”  Successive Farm Bills, from the second, the 1936 Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, to the most recent, the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, perpetuated the farm safety net.  However, both the structure of the farm safety net and scale and character of farming in the United States have changed dramatically since the first farm bill was introduced in 1933.  

The original farm safety net helped support the small, labor intensive, diversified farms that then characterized farming in the United States.  The 1936 Farm Bill linked commodity programs and soil conservation and encouraged farmers to idle some of their land to avoid overproduction.  The following Farm Bills, of 1949, 1954, and 1956, continued to rely on price supports and supply control (farmers being paid to leave land unused or to put crops into storage).  However, since World War II, farming changed in a number of ways: 

Video: Back to the Start

"The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system. It was created to promote the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, a non-profit organization that is committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food supply and to raising awareness concerning food issues."

More on the Call to Action- World Food Day 2008

Posted by Ellie Hurley, World Hunger Year What is now referred to as the global food crisis began quietly enough several years ago. In early 2007 protests over the increased cost in tortillas broke out in Mexico, then there was a whisper of grain and rice exports being restricted in China and Vietnam, and slowly but surely, as the crisis reached America, the prices on our shelves began to increase. This summer somewhere between further protests in Egypt and Haiti, increased fuel costs, and food pantries battling long lines and empty shelves, it became clear that these were not isolated incidents. The world is facing is a food crisis, which if unaddressed, threatens to further weaken economies world wide, further impoverish the poor, and further deplete our waning energy reserve.

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