What the “Secret Farm Bill” Means For Organic Food Lovers

How this bill affects you

Farm landscape
Find out what changes are coming to our food system.

Updated Jul 11, 2017 @ 11:34 am

You may have heard some buzz recently over the so-called “Secret Farm Bill.” Renewed every five years, the bill dictates how our food system runs, and we thought you might want to know how it affects what’s available to you in local restaurants and grocery aisles.

So, why is the bill “secret”? As Mark Bittman explains in The New York Times, the U.S. is looking to make big budget cuts by November 23rd, and as a result, this Farm Bill might not get its standard period for public debate.

Here’s why you should care:

  • As it looks now, the bill would provide “crop insurance” to help farmers out of disasters. Here’s the catch: the only folks who would be eligible for this coverage would be growers of “commodity crops,” such as genetically-modified corn. The USDA defines everything else—local, organic, biodiverse-grown root vegetables, fruit, greens and grains—as “specialty.” This gives an economic advantage to producers of food that’s generally less good for us.
  • The bill also proposes cuts to land conservation and nutrition programs—more bad news for those trying to eat better on a budget.

The good news: Slow Food USA, the Organic Consumers Association and House Representative Chellie Pingree, among many other supporters of organic food, have a plan. It’s called the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, and it would support local growers, and in turn, the restaurants that source from them. Slow Food will be taking this Recipe for Change petition to Congress next week; last we checked, more than 11,000 people have signed the petition so far.