Organic Consumers Association

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Carrots, Sticks, And Crumbs: Making the Most of the 2007/2008 Farm Bill and Getting Ready for 2012

In a stuffy room on Capitol Hill last week, I joined a couple dozen activists and farmers to discuss the farm bill. Why would we bother to meet in hot-as-an-oven Washington D.C. to discuss the legislative mess that recently sputtered to an all too drawn-out end?

While the ink is barely dry on the new farm legislation, the campaign for the 2012 Farm and Food Bill has already begun. The group of grassroots advocates met in D.C. last week to wipe the sweat from their brows, roll up their sleeves, and begin to strategize a coordinated effort to ensure $14 billion of funding won in the new farm bill translates into real support for sustainable farmers, environmental stewardship, rural economic development, urban food projects, and other good food efforts.

The $14 billion worth of programs can grow and nourish sustainable food and agriculture efforts around the country and in doing so, build the power of the 2012 Farm and Food Bill movement along the way. One of the keys is getting the word out about these new programs so that farmers and organizations can benefit from them.

 Critics have likened the farm bill wins to "crumbs" because they represent a small part of the overall farm bill loaf. The relative merits of incremental change can be debated in another post, but for people serious about changing the food system, the programs in the new farm law that support everything from beginning farmers to organic production to conservation on working land represent real reforms that can benefit real people doing some really good things on the land and in their communities.

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