“Eating is an agricultural act.”
Wendell Berry is indubitably correct when he notes that “eating is an agricultural act.” Yet, as Berry and others who become immersed in the realm of local food systems will heartily note, eating is also a social, biological, and even arguably a political act. What we grow, what we purchase, how we prepare, and ultimately what we eat at the later stage of our food systems experiences define our relationships not only to the Earth around us, but even (and inevitably) to our views of justice and power.
Although we might be in the 2nd month of 2011, stimulating and steadily accumulating conversation is arising in regards to the 2012 Farm Bill, a federal omnibus bill reauthorized every few years since 1933 to guide agricultural and food policy initiatives nationally. In its upcoming incarnation, certain provisions will likely remain, while other provisions could be discarded and whole new provisions added, be they to the benefit of small-scale organic farmers, commodity-driven agribusinesses and beyond. Yet, to shed some perspective on the current and soon-to-expire background from the “Farm, Conservation, & Energy Act of 2008,” here are some elements under the Title of “Horticulture and Organic Agriculture:”
“Expands Access to Locally Grown Food
Expands activities covered under the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, including the expansion of EBT systems at farmers markets Provides $33 million to expand opportunities for direct producer-to-consumer marketing. Expands producers’ eligibility to access funds in the program
- Provides $22 million for USDA’s cost-share program
-House Agriculture Committee, May 2008
This is just one excerpt of hundreds of pages of provisions, one that bears strong resonance for the overall smaller-scale farming of northern New Mexico. Alongside these provisions, a Febraury 9th Farm Bill Forum in downtown Santa Fe yielded discussion of mandatory national procurement standards (i.e. institutions such as schools and hospitals buying a fixed amount of local produce annually), school cooking program funding, soil conservation measures, and much more.
As discussion on the 2012 Farm Bill continues through 2011, we need to exercise our full democratic muscles on constituent input. Something to give meaning and substance to potentially ill-fated, if note dangerous, bureaucratic mishaps without the community’s feedback. For more Farm Bill information, feel free to contact Earth Care offices care of Bianca Sopoci-Belknap.
Also, tomorrow morning (February 26th), a planning meeting to determine events for the Global Youth Service Days of April 15th-17th will take place at Earth Care offices on Siler Road from 10 am-1 pm. All community input is welcome, with lunch offered!