I have written earlier about how lucky we are to have Chellie Pingree on the Agriculture Committee and how she is working to help small farmers and try to decrease the subsidizing of industrial/large-scale agriculture. What we need to do now is call our Congressperson and let them know that small farmers are the engine of this country as much as any other small business person. Chellie Pingree introduced the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act to create opportunities for farmers and small businesses focused on agriculture to support local, family farmers in a way that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to do in the past. Become a Citizen co-sponsor.
The bill modifies nine of the sixteen titles of the farm bill. Some of those changes include proposals that:
· Provide funding to help farmers build the infrastructure—like slaughterhouses—to process and sell their food locally.
· Require USDA to keep doing traditional seed research, not just on genetically modified seeds.
· Create a new crop insurance program tailored to the needs of organic farmers and diversified farmers who grow a wide variety of crops and can’t easily access traditional crop insurance.
· Break down barriers for schools and institutions to procure local food more easily. Provide schools with a local school credit to purchase local foods, as well as fix out-dated federal policies that inhibit schools from purchasing local food.
· Make it easier for food stamp recipients to spend their money at farmers markets by giving the farmers access to technology necessary to accept electronic benefits—that money goes right back into the local economy. The bill includes a pilot program to test smart phone technology to accept food stamp benefits at farmers market.
The 2012 Farm Bill could be acted on this week. If you haven’t written your representatives, please do it today. This link makes it easy.