SCOTUS and Farmers and Seeds, Oh My!

So, in November, a lame-duck congress will (maybe) finally act on the Farm Bill 2012.   If the current state of affairs (no Farm Bill because the old one expired September 30th) continues into the new year, the law will revert to a law written in 1949.  Something that even Grumpy Old Plutocrats should be able to see as a bad thing.  Hello, farming has changed just a bit since then.  But maybe it’s not such a bad thing.  That is pre-Green Revolution and might actually address farming the way it should be.  I’ll do more research and get back to you on that.

Russell Libby, of MOFGA, did a good job of summing up what is holding up passage of the bill in a Press Herald article (I mean what is holding it up besides the do-nothing obstructionist Congress):

“Fifty years ago, the U.S. population was divided more evenly between rural and urban areas. To get urban politicians on board with the farm bill, the food assistance program was added, Libby said.

‘There was a de facto agreement that the urban interests would support the farmers as long as the farmers’ rural interests would support providing better food to low-income people in the cities,’ he said.

In the 1960s, however, food assistance came in the form of food, not stamps.

‘It was surplus commodities,” Libby said. ‘Back then, in the pre-food stamp era, it was extra chicken, peanut butter and things like that — in big, 5-pound cans — that would go to poor people. So that was an easy one for the rural folks to buy, because their extra stuff was going directly where it was needed.

‘But this year, the agreement is falling apart because there’s such a strong voice in the House to cut the food assistance program that it’s preventing the rest of the farm bill from moving forward. You have the fiscally conservative voices in the House who, in a sense, are voting against their constituents — the rural interests — in the interest of the budget.’

Libby predicted this farm bill might be the last that combines agriculture and food stamps, but dividing them could have consequences. Urban areas are now home to two-thirds of the U.S. population.”

But the other news of the day is somewhat better.  The Supreme Court is set to hear a case involving a farmer who did some traditional seed saving.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on you point of view, the parent seeds were GMO “round up ready” seeds.   Monsanto, who swears they never harass small farmers with lawsuits, is suing him for patent infringement.  There is, evidently, some good case-law to support the farmer’s right to save seed.  We can only hope that the conservative majority of SCOTUS will not prove themselves, yet again, to be the wholly owned subsidiary of yet another corporation.  The OSGATA lawsuit against Monsanto still languishes.

And finally, Dr. Vandana Shiva and her organization have just released their global report on Seed Freedom.  OSGATA’s own Holli Cederholm contributed.  Way to go Holli!!!

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