Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More background on the Farm Bill than you ever dreamed of

The 2007 Farm Bill is currently being crafted in Congress and will hopefully be completed by the time the fiscal year ends in September. Enacted approximately every five years, the Farm Bill reauthorizes most of the agricultural subsidy, natural resource, and food assistance programs under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The administration submitted its Farm Bill proposals at the beginning of the calendar year; currently, both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are working on drafting their versions of the Bill. Some of these drafts (for the House), as well as amendments, can be found here.

Here are many resources for information about the issues surrounding the bill as well as specific policy platforms from a variety of organizations ranging from anti-hunger and nutrition to farmers and sustainable agriculture.
  • For basic info, see Farm Aid's "Farm Bill Study Guide," or World Hunger Year Food Security Learning Center's U.S. Farm Bill page, or check out some of the links on Michael Pollan's website (.pdf).

  • For more in-depth, unbiased reporting on the Farm Bill, along wither other agriculture policy issues, check out the Farm Policy blog.

  • The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (or NESAWG), while maintaining its own particular issue platform for the 2007 Farm Bill, has links to a number of other policy platforms on its website, including those from farmer, sustainable agriculture, and anti-hunger groups.

  • Several groups are organizing around the Farm Bill's connections to public health: For background reading about these connection, see Public Health Action or this action item.

  • For a historical perspective, the National Agricultural Law Center contains both summary and full text for past Farm Bills dating back to 1933.

  • To purchase an easy-to-read yet comprehensive overview of many Farm Bill issues (with the warning that the author has a definite set of policy objectives in mind), Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill by Daniel Imhoff was released several months ago, just in time for the 2007 Farm Bill.
Marker Bills

There have been many marker bills introduced in Congress, which allow Senators and Members of Congress to sign on to particular issuejavascript:void(0) platforms and help shape the debate occurring within the Agriculture Committee and Subcommittees, as the actual omnibus Farm Bill is drafted simultaneously in each house of Congress.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about key Farm Bill legislative actors and a timeline of Farm Bill legislative events.

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