Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Farm Bill in the House Agriculture Committee

See FarmPolicy and Ethicurean for coverage of today's hearing in the House Agriculture Committee, or listen to the streaming audio yourself.

Meanwhile, I am fascinated by efforts to crunch the numbers and fashion a Farm Bill reform proposal that benefits a majority of Congressional districts that are represented on the House Agriculture Committee. You can see the appeal of this question. Of course, urban and suburban districts would benefit from reform, but their legislators do not care enough to spend political capital on this issue and they do not sit on the House Agriculture Committee. The clever question is to ask what combination of fruit and vegetable subsidies, conservation payments, rural development projects, and community food programs should win the votes of a majority of legislators on the committee.

See this post from the Blog for Rural America and this post from the Ruminant.

1 comment:

roxsen said...

A movement is underway that in many ways renders the Farm Bill moot. It is made up of first generation farmers who are setting up shop in the cities and towns where they live. What is enabling them is a commercial sub-acre farming system called SPIN-Farming.
SPIN requires minimal infrastructure and provides a specific process for generating significant income from land bases under an acre in size. It integrates agriculture into the built environment in a commercially viable manner, and removes the two big barriers to entry for aspiring farmers – they do not need much land or financial resources to do SPIN.
Many are now recognizing that the segregation of food production outside of cities and towns no longer makes sense in an increasingly urbanized world. By re-casting farming as a small business in a city or town, SPIN eliminates many of the factors outside of the farmer’s control, and therefore eliminates the need for government supports. And it is making farming accessible and relevant again to a new generation by positioning agriculture as integral part of urban and suburban economies, rather than something a part from them.
SPIN is providing a tool for re-defining farming for the 21st century – sub-acre, low capital intensive, environmentally friendly, close to markets, entrepreneurially-driven. It is redirecting aspiring farmers away from traditional agricultural products that lose money and towards products that meet the needs of urban and suburban customers. And it just might spark a farming revival that cuts across geography, generations, incomes and ideologies to provide common ground, quite literally, beneath everyone’s feet.
--Roxanne Christensen