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By: Charity Kenyon and Ed Yowell, Slow Food USA Regional Governors

Mark Bittman’s recent opinion blog on the Farm Bill inspired us to give the Slow Food perspective on this massive piece of legislation working its way through Congress.

Why do we care about the outcome of the current debate?

Put starkly, the Food and Farm Bills of the past several decades subsidize farming and ranching that is not good, clean, or fair. The eventual bill will also affect whether some 45 million Americans eat because the largest program — up to 70% of Food and Farm Bill spending — is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps. The current House version of the bill would cut $20 billion out of SNAP and continue subsidies that, as proposed, go disproportionately to a few very wealthy corporations.

The best citizen’s guide to this complex legislation may be Food Fight, the Citizens Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill.

Food Fight 2013

In the current debate, Slow Food USA has taken support positions in favor of amendments to the Food and Farm Bill that would:

  • reform the subsidy programs
  • support conservation
  • support beginning and disadvantaged farmers
  • support specialty crops (fruits and vegetables, not commodity corn and soy)
  • promote rural development programs

Slow Food USA has opposed amendments that would:

  • make drastic cuts to SNAP and other nutrition programs for the very young and elderly
  • pre-empt states from requiring labeling of foods containing GE (genetically engineered) ingredients
  • subsidize practices that pollute our shared air, soil, and water resources

We know that our individual, informed choices can support a good, clean, and fair food — essentially “voting with our forks.”

We also know that public policy at the federal level — spending billions of dollars — greatly influences what and how food is produced and how it impacts the environment, farmers and ranchers, farmworkers and ranch hands, food chain workers, and eaters. With our food and farm change allies, Slow Food USA advocates for Joy + Justice.

Charity Kenyon, Slow Food USA Governor, Central Valley Region of Californiaand Ed Yowell, Slow Food USA Governor, Northeast (NY, NJ, CT)