Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sustainable Agriculture and the USA

The Farm Bill, which should have been passed last year, got sort of a punt earlier this year by several extensions. It was passed in the Senate and now goes onto In this age of anti-government and austerity, the Farm Bill is not as exciting as things such as war and homosexual marriage. But the Farm Bill is the only thing I personally think we should be worrying about, because more that most other issues, this is the ultimate pocket book issue.

The one thing that unites everyone is the fact that we must eat. To my knowledge, there are few mystics on the planet this day that can survive on air, so the rest of us really must eat. There are two things that affect food and agriculture policy in the US, policy and market forces. In no other area is this  more skewed than in the Farm Bill. Repeatedly, the American public asks to have their food labeled for GMO's, wants access to farm fresh produce, and yet powerful lobbies from big agricultural interests force policy against the will of the American People. Ultimately, we only have ourselves to blame, because only 47% of the public bothers to vote (and this is an increase actually). This puts politicians in an odd place of representing smaller and smaller pools of constituents, and in a constant state of fundraising. Because they spend almost half of each work day on fund raising, our representatives do the bidding of corporations who molest our democracy. But this happens because not enough people participate  in the process through voting. A certain party is trying to suppress minority voters in swing states, so we will see what happens in the next election.

The Farm Bill has several aspects in it which are good, and others that I think are bad. One aspect is funding to maintain wetlands, which are critical for water purification, and the preservation of our land.

2% of the American public raises food for the rest of the nation. The average age of Farmers in the United States is 62 years old. We need policies that help bring young people into farming, and to maintain our land for future generations. With the loss of farm land, and the declining numbers of farmers, big AG farms are taking over our landscapes. With larger farms, industrial practices are the only way to go, and the soil and water are damaged.

The only hope for the future in terms of food is Sustainable Agriculture. This type of Agriculture is based on the philosophy that to be sustainable, a project or endeavor must meet the needs of the present without damage to future generations.

There are great organizations working to help to reverse this trend. 

The National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition is a great resource for those of us who are on information overload. If you need good, simply stated information on the state of sustainable agriculture in the US, this is your site:

The Organic Farming Research Foundation is another great site for all things Organic

My personal favorite, Biodynamic Agriculture, which is starting to really take hold in the United States. As the grandfather of the organic movement, Biodynamic practices create healing for the land, and promote farming that is in harmony with the seasons and the ecosystem.

The debate is not over for the Farm Bill, we now need to focus our efforts on the House, so please call your representative and let them know you want a farm policy that will feed generations to come. The only way to do that is with Sustainable Agriculture.

Besides calling and writing your Representative, the best thing you can do is support small family farms, Become a member of Community Supported Agriculture, shop farmers markets, ask your grocer to stock fresh local produce, buy local. If we combine our efforts in policy, and support sustainability with our dollars, this is how we can create a delicious future for our children.

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