Fixing the Farm Bill

I have been reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, and I have to say that it is quite disheartening to see how actively the federal government discourages the type of agriculture I believe in.

The Farm Bill is a prime example. What do you think it is about? Really, think about this for a moment. What should a bill called “The Farm Bill” do?

I always thought it supported farmers in their efforts to grow food and supported non-farmers in their efforts to consume it. I thought it took some of the risk out of farming, making agriculture more of a job and less of a roulette spin. I thought the bill would help all farmers, no matter what they chose to grow.

Apparently, I was wrong. The Farm Bill (in its current incarnation) is designed to produce the cheapest possible raw materials for industrial use. This means it fully supports the growth of cheap corn, wheat, soybeans, rice and cotton, but not tomatoes, milk or carrots.

And because cheap is one key word, and industrial is another, most subsidies go to large farms, farms that use tons of toxic pesticides, farms that use dubious GM seeds…because these are the farms that produce very standardized materials in enormous quantities.

Call me crazy, but something tells me this isn’t the kind of farming I want my tax dollars to support. I’d rather limit supports to farms with less than 100 acres, or organic farms, or farmers that limit their distribution to a 200-mile radius.

I sure as heck would stop making transportation costs tax-deductible (at least for transportation past that 200 miles). I hate to see California tomatoes in my Omaha grocery store that are cheaper than Nebraska-grown ones, even in August. People almost always buy the cheapest food, and it is tax-deductible transportation that ensures a lower price for California produce.

So please, write your Congressional Representatives–House and Senate. Let them know what YOU think the Farm Bill should be about.

Next time: corn shortages?

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