WE KNOW WE WERE DUPED BY OBAMA IN THAT HE IS A STRIDENT CORPORATE POLITICIAN DOING GRAVE DAMAGE TO THE MIDDLE/LOWER CLASS, BUT ROMNEY IS A NAKED CAPITALIST SO WE ARE LEFT WITH NO CHOICE BUT OBAMA. HILLARY CLINTON WOULD HAVE BEEN A GREATER CORPORATIST. LET'S LOOK AT CARDIN, SARBANES, AND CUMMINGS ALL HAVING ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER. REMEMBER------WE CAN VOTE THEM OUT WITH WRITE-IN CANDIDATES! THE ISSUES BELOW WILL BE VOTED INTO LAW BECAUSE THESE POLITICIANS WILL VOTE FOR THEM, BUT WE MUST SHOUT LOUDLY AND STRONGLY THAT WE SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND EXPOSE THEIR CAMPAIGN LIES. IT BECOMES HARDER FOR THESE POLITICIANS TO LIE IF IT IS EXPOSED PUBLICLY.....AND YOU KNOW MAINSTREAM MEDIA ISN'T DOING THAT, SO WE WILL!
I WANT TO BEGIN BY STATING THAT PROTECTING OUR FOOD, WATER, AND UTILITIES FROM MEGA-CORPORATE CONTROL IS VITAL. WE DON'T WANT CORPORATIONS WITH NO CONCERN FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST HAVING COMPLETE POWER OVER THESE COMMODITIES. YET, YOU SEE THIRD WAY DEMOCRATS ANXIOUS TO HAND THEM OVER AS WITH MARYLAND'S BGE UTILITY, ITS FAILURE TO PROTECT MARYLAND'S AQUIFERS FROM FRACKING CONTAMINATION, AND NOW ALL MARYLAND POLITICIANS FAILING TO CURB AGRI-BUSINESS IN THE FARM BILL.
THE FARM BILL GIVES GLOBAL AGRI-BUSINESS UNLIMITED CROP INSURANCE WITH TAXPAYER MONEY MEANING THAT NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS DROUGHT AND SEVERE STORMS DESTROY THEIR CROPS, AND WE KNOW THAT IS GOING TO BE THE RULE, NOT THE EXCEPTION, THEY WILL BE GIVEN MORE MONEY FOR THOSE CROPS THAN IF THEY HAD LIVED AND BEEN HARVESTED AND SOLD. THIS IS JUST LIKE THE OIL INDUSTRY SUBSIDIES AND MARKET SPECULATION THAT USES YOU AND I AS AN ATM AT THE GAS PUMP......PERPETUAL MARKET GAINS COURTESY THE TAXPAYER AND CONSUMER. THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU HEAR THESE DEMOCRATIC POLITICIANS SAY. 'WE ARE DEMANDING THAT BIG BUSINESS SUBSIDIES END AND THE MONEY SAVED WILL PAY DOWN THE DEFICIT RATHER THAN SPENDING CUTS TO PUBLIC PROGRAMS!' THESE THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS SAY AS THEY VOTE FOR THE LARGEST FARM SUBSIDY FOR BIG BUSINESS THEY CAN. OH, BUT THE FOOD STAMPS.....'WE HAD TO SAVE THEM!' THESE SAME DEMOCRATS ARE THE ONES THAT FAILED TO DETACH FOOD STAMPS FROM THE FARM BILL JUST SO THEY COULD SAY THAT.
WRITE, CALL, AND EMAIL THESE MARYLAND POLITICIANS TO LET THEM KNOW YOU UNDERSTAND THEIR DOUBLE-TALK......AND VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!!
WHETHER IT IS O'MALLEY AND HIS GANG OF PIRATES OR CARDIN, SARBANES, AND CUMMINGS AND THEIR OUTRIGHT LIES AND DOUBLE-TALK, WE ALL MUST MAKE THIS CULTURE OF CORRUPTION AS PUBLIC AS POSSIBLE IN ORDER TO TURN IT AROUND FOR THE PEOPLE!
VOTE INCUMBENTS OUT!!!
FOOD STAMPS AND THE FARM BILL
FOOD STAMPS ARE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT OF SAFETY NET PROGRAMS AND IS ESPECIALLY NEEDED NOW. REPUBLICANS HAVE HISTORICALLY SUPPORTED IT AND EVEN WITH TODAY'S SPENDING CUT MANTRA WILL BE HARD-PRESSED TO VOTE TOO LARGE A CUT TO THIS PROGRAM. WE KNOW THAT FOOD POLICY IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT TO THE HEALTH OF AT RISK CITIZENS AS WITH ALL OF US. THE POOR ARE EXPOSED TO THE FOOD/OBESITY LINK TO CORN/SOY PRODUCTS, THEY EAT THE MOST ANTIBIOTIC-FILLED MEAT, THE MOST CHEMICAL-LADEN VEGETABLES. WHY LEAVE THE TWO TIED TOGETHER WHEN WE KNOW THE POWER OF AGRI-BUSINESS? IS IT ANY MORE PROTECTED FROM CUTS THAN IF IT WAS ATTACHED TO HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES WHERE IT MAKES SENSE TO HAVE IT?
IF YOU WERE SERIOUS ABOUT FARM BILL REFORMS AND YOU HAD A SUPERMAJORITY IN CONGRESS RIGHT AFTER THE ELECTION, WOULD DISCONNECTING FOOD STAMPS AND THE FARM BILL BE A PRIORITY? WOULD HAVING AGRI-COMMITTEE CHAIRS IN FAVOR OF REFORM BE CRITICAL? YES, OF COUSE. NONE OF THAT HAPPENED.
IT STAYS THERE AS A PAWN FOR AGRI-BUSINESS AND YOUR THIRD WAY POLITICIAN WOULD HAVE IT NO OTHER WAY!!!!!!
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!!
SNAP in the Farm Bill The Farm Bill is popularly associated with the provision of agricultural subsidies, conservation programs, and new farm policies. So why should we care about it when we’re talking about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)? Because for the past several decades, the legislation authorizing SNAP has been included in the Farm Bill. In fact, the nutrition title—one of fifteen titles covered by the Farm Bill—is the largest title in the Farm Bill. Of the programs covered by nutrition, SNAP accounts for 95% of all spending. Overall, nutrition spending makes up 75% of the total budget for the Farm Bill. Nutrition in the United States is thus very much determined by the provisions, policies and funding allocations in the U.S. Farm Bill.
For the past several years, SNAP has received strong support in the Farm Bill. The first decade of the 21st century saw increases in funding for the program, as well as the implementation of pilot projects and new innovations to begin retooling SNAP for healthy nutrition. Because SNAP is so central in reducing poverty and food insecurity in the United States, it has historically received backing from both political parties.
However, the 2012 Farm Bill could represent a departure from this track record. The current economic climate in the United States and the stated intention of both political parties to reduce federal spending for the future could mean cuts to SNAP. Indeed, a draft version of the Agricultural Committee’s proposed Farm Bill trimmed $4 billion from SNAP by eliminating automatic enrollment for those who qualify for energy benefits. This poses a serious risk to the program, especially at a time when SNAP has record rates of enrollment, skyrocketing to 45.8 million people as of August 2011. In fact, one of SNAP’s greatest contributions is its reliability during times of economic downturn. The program is regarded as one of the top safety nets in place to soften the impact of economic recessions and generate economic activity to get the nation back on its feet. Any cuts made to SNAP while the economy continues to struggle could actually set back economic recovery.
If Congress is looking to cut overall spending in the farm bill, lawmakers will have to decide which parts of the bill to cut. Often this comes down to which components of the bill have a stronger lobbying voice. SNAP supporters are thus up against the agricultural lobby—one of the largest and most generously-funded groups in the United States. Consequently, funding for SNAP is not just a question of the enormous needs of people supported by the program itself, but it is also influenced by other initiatives in the Farm Bill. Additionally, policies are often influenced by the interests of other organizations focused on the Farm Bill. If SNAP supporters want to reshape the program for nutrition, they may have to gain the support of at least some members of the agricultural industry. This can be difficult if nutrition programs (for instance, a movement to reduce the consumption of foods high in fat and/or sugar content) go against current industry business models (which may be encouraging the production and consumption of “unhealthy” foods). The politics of SNAP is thus a very delicate balancing act.
Among the SNAP advocacy community, the following issues are of particular interest in the 2012 Farm Bill:
- Streamlining the determination of eligibility requirements and benefit amounts to decrease red tape and encourage more people to enroll in SNAP
- Ensuring adequate support for the states in the administration and implementation of SNAP
- Increasing outreach efforts to attract the remaining 30% of Americans who are eligible for SNAP but are not participating in the program
- Re-evaluating the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) to verify that it accurately reflects food costs in the United States (for instance, restructuring the TFP so that market baskets are estimated for each region of the United States to reflect the wide variety in food costs across the country)
- Reducing the number of “food deserts” in the United States by supporting programs that promote the construction of and access to healthy food retailers in low-income communities
- Extending access to farmers’ markets by implementing a program to support installation of EBT equipment at all farmers’ markets
- Promoting nutrition in SNAPby:
- Increasing funding for the Specialty Crop program to provide incentives for farmers to grow more fruits and vegetables rather than commodity crops like corn and soy
- Increasing funding for SNAP-Education
- Instituting nutrition incentives that give SNAP participants a discount or cash-back for the purchase of fruits and vegetables
- Re-authorizing the Farmers Market Promotion Program
- Maintaining and increasing support of conservation programs
- Increasing research targeted towards farmland stewardship, organic farming, crop innovation, and crop and livestock protection
- Using other incentives and or restrictions on certain food purchases.
AS THE NEXT TWO ARTICLES ALLUDE TO, THIS FARM BILL WAS WRITTEN WELL IN ADVANCE. THE DEMOCRATS HAD A SUPERMAJORITY AFTER THE ELECTION AND HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT WOULD HAVE ADDRESSED ALL DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENTS (REMOVE FOOD STAMPS FROM FARM BILL. MICHAEL POLLEN IS FIGHTING THE 'HEALTHY FOOD' ISSUES LIKE ANTIBIOTICS, GENETIC MODIFICATION, ANIT-INDUSTRIAL FARMING, AND ORGANIC FARMING. BELOW THAT YOU SEE THE FIGHT FOR SMALL FARMERS AND FOOD STAMP ADVOCATES. THIS FARM BILL WAS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT IN SHAPING OUR FOOD FUTURE AND WITH A DEMOCRATIC SENATE AND PRESIDENT, SHOULD HAVE FOUGHT FOR MANY CONSTITUENTS.....RATHER, IT PROTECTS 4 MAIN AGRICULTURE STATES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE COUNTRY'S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.
IT IS THE SENATE AND HOUSE LEADERSHIP THAT DETERMINES WHO HEADS THESE COMMITTEES AS IS TRUE AT THE STATE LEVEL. HARRY REID AND NANCY PELOSI ASSIGNED AGRIBUSINESS PEOPLE TO THE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE AND YOU GET THIS KIND OF LEGISLATION. THESE ARE THIRD WAY LEADERS THAT NEED TO BE VOTED OUT OF LEADERSHIP POSITIONS BY REAL PROGRESSIVES.
Michael Pollan, “The Farm Bill”
We regret to inform you that rumors of a “Secret Farm Bill” being hatched behind closed doors in Washington by only a handful of legislators and industrial agriculture lobbyists are about to become a reality. DC sources have verified that a deal has been struck by the 4 members of the House and Senate Ag committee and the backdoor bill could be announced in the next few hours.
This corrupt deal is an outrage and steals any chances for real reforms for local, organic and healthy food until the next Farm Bill comes up in 2017. Please make an urgent call to the listed leaders of the House and Senate ag committees today to tell them to say no to corporate greed and NO to the "Secret Farm Bill".
We know not everyone enjoys making calls, but they make the biggest impact. We've made it super easy with a simple script and stopping the "Secret Farm Bill" is vital for the future of our food, health and democracy. Make sure they hear your voice today. If you can't reach the listed Senators or Congressmen, please call your own by dialing the Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121 and the House switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Here's a simple script, heck, have fun with it!
Hi, my name is _______ I'm calling to put an end to corporate greed and say "No" to the secretive process by which the farm bill budget negotiations are taking place. Rushing this vital piece of legislation behind closed doors is unfair and undemocratic.
Please tell Congressman / Senator _____ that I care about America's family farmers and support the right to an open and transparent Food and Farm Bill that has no cuts to vital conservation or nutrition programs. Please co-sponsor the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 1773, H.R. 3286) instead of rushing through the Secret Farm Bill.
Senate Ag Committee Leadership:
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) - Chair of Senate Agricultural Committee - call: (202) 224-4822
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) Ranking Member Senate Agriculture Committee - call: (202) 224-4774
House Ag Committee Leadership:
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK) Chair House Committee on Agriculture - call: 202-225-5565
Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) Former Chair House Committee on Agriculture - call: (202) 225-2165
Additional Congressional Leadership - please call to tell leadership you disapprove of this corrupt, backroom process.
Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) Speaker of the House (202) 225-6205
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D - CA) Minority Leader (202) 225-4965
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) Senate Majority Leader (202)-224-3542
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Minorty Leader (202) 224-2541
If you feel like calling more members of the Senate or House Ag Committees to tell the to Kill the Secret Farm Bill click on the links below.
Members of the Senate Ag Committee:
Members of the House Ag Committee:
Thank again and have a great day
THIS FARM BILL HAS ALLOWED HUGE AGRI-BUSINESS TO GOBBLE-UP SMALL FARMERS JUST AS IS HAPPENING ACROSS ALL BUSINESS SECTORS. SMALL BUSINESS IS THE BACKBONE OF A HEALTHY ECONOMY AND DEMOCRACY BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE NOTHING BUT MEGA-CORPORATIONS.....YOU ARE RULED BY THEM......WHICH IS WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW. IF A POLITICIAN SUPPORTS MEGA-INDUSTRY, THEY DO NOT SUPPORT THE MIDDLE-CLASS!
January 20th, 2012
Farm Bill 101
Food & Water Watch
Our current food system is broken, and it did not happen by accident. Many people do not have access to safe, nutritious, affordable food; many farmers can’t make a living; many regions of the country no longer produce the food they consume; and large-scale indus- trial agriculture pollutes our soil and water. Decades of misguided farm policy designed by agribusiness, combined with unchecked corporate consolidation, have wreaked havoc on family farmers, public health and rural communities.
Read the full report. Independent farmers have been sold out by an agricultural policy that favors the overproduction of commodity crops like corn and soybeans, often driving down their price. Deregulation has left farmers vulnerable to wild swings in the price of corn, soybeans and wheat, lowering farmers’ earnings for most of the last 15 years. Meanwhile, agribusiness buyers — grain-trading companies, meatpackers and food manufacturers that use soybeans and corn in processed foods — reap huge profits from this system that promotes cheap commodity crops. Farm policy has continued to rely on exports to absorb excess supplies of bargain basement-priced crops, while failing to address the real problems at home, including high land prices, high debt and weakened safety nets for farmers.
Small and midsized farms are at the mercy of market fluctuations, and a wave of agribusiness, food manufacturing and supermarket mergers has made the problem worse. Consolidation has allowed a handful of companies that buy crops and livestock to dictate the prices that farmers receive. The four largest companies in each industry slaughter nearly all the beef, process two-thirds of the pork, sell half the groceries and manufacture about half the milk in the United States. This means that the low prices paid to farmers are not passed on to consumers as savings at the grocery store.
There is a growing movement of farmers and consumers working to rebuild local food systems and put more of the consumer food dollar directly in the hands of farmers. But unfortunately, shopping well is not enough. While we work to restore links in our local food systems that bring farmers and consumers together, we must fix broken food policy at the federal level. The Farm Bill, which is rewritten every five years, offers a critical opportunity to change federal farm and food policy. Instead of catering to agribusiness’s desire for cheap raw materials, our next Farm Bill should ensure functional, fair markets so that farmers and farmworkers who grow our food can earn a decent living, promote environmental stewardship and rebuild the infrastructure we need for consumers to access sustainably grown, regionally produced food. _______________________________
The Secret Farm Bill
By MARK BITTMAN November 8, 2011, 9:00 pm
The Republican-manufactured budget crisis of this past summer — remember? — resulted in a “solution” that’s hijacking what little representative democratic process we have left. Equally sad is that the so-called supercommittee — charged with creating an outline for reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years — may preclude full discussion of the farm bill.
It’s the farm bill that largely shapes food and agriculture policy, and — though much of it finances good programs — ultimately supports the cynical, profit-at-any-cost food system that drives obesity, astronomical health care costs, ethanol-driven agriculture and more, creating further deficits while punishing the environment.
The farm bill is written every five years. Although the current one doesn’t expire until September, the next one may be all but wrapped up by your first bite of turkey, because the leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees — a group of four, representing Oklahoma, Michigan, Minnesota and Kansas (do you see a pattern here?) — are working feverishly to draw up a proposal in time to submit it to the supercommittee before the Nov. 23 deadline.
This leaves many advocates and progressives in the world of food, environment, health and poverty in the odd position of trying to influence the group of four’s report to the supercommittee while hoping the process fails. Because if the supercommittee cannot agree on deficit reduction (and it probably won’t, unless stubborn Republicans cave on revenues or Democrats misplace their spines again), we’ll see automatic cuts made to the bloated defense budget that we otherwise would not. (Although the Pentagon’s defenders on the Hill are looking for wiggle room.)
Still. If recommendations by the four farm-state people are folded into the supercommittee’s deficit reduction package, and that package passes, we could see five more years of food policy signed into law without so much as a spirited debate.
Welcome to the world of the secret farm bill, a world of intrigue and ambivalence.
Some think that there’s a better chance of influencing the supercommittee by lobbying the group of four than there is of passing an improved farm bill through the Republican-controlled house. Others think the atmosphere around food has changed, and an open policy discussion just might yield a farm bill that supports real food.
I’d rather think about dinner, but this stuff is distracting.
The group of four is aiming at $23 billion in cuts, with around $14 billion coming from commodity subsidies, $6 billion from conservation programs, and the rest from nutrition programs like food stamps, now more important than ever. Everyone (almost literally) wants the restructuring of subsidies, but it sounds as if direct payments would be replaced by a new “shallow-loss” protection plan, essentially free insurance that would cover revenue losses before the also heavily subsidized paid insurance kicks in. Replacing direct payments with shallow-loss protection may save some money, but does nothing to change the fact that the wrong people will get it.
And the devil is in the details. Will small and medium farms raising what are outrageously called “specialty crops” (fruits and vegetables!) be covered by shallow-loss? Will programs supporting new farms, local farms, organic food, access to real food by real people, be boosted? Probably not.
Few are privy to discussions of either the group of four or the supercommittee. Those in Congress who appear most concerned about the process are led by Representative Ron Kind, Democrat of Wisconsin, who, with 26 other members of Congress, sent a letter to the supercommittee urging it to reject the creation of new farm programs outside the normal legislative order. Meanwhile, Congress was flooded by 27,000 phone calls — encouraged by the excellent Food Democracy Now — protesting the secret farm bill.
Scores of legislators, farm and advocacy groups, individuals and other organizations have crafted proposals to be considered for the next farm bill (here are just a few), and at least some are slipping notes under the door of the group of four, hoping to influence their recommendations. Among the best of these is the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, a title that would strengthen local and regional agriculture and increase access to healthy food, introduced by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Democrat of Maine, and Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.
I spoke with Pingree by phone on Monday. The title, she said, “looks at existing programs and tries to find ways to make them work for the small to medium-sized family farm, which is the side of agriculture that’s actually growing.” It would make it easier for small and new farmers to borrow money, get small grants and secure crop insurance. It would make it easier to use food stamps at farmers’ markets and buy local food for school lunches. In short, it would be a huge step in the right direction, and asking your Congress representative to co-sponsor this title is worth five minutes of your time.
Pingree “was looking forward to a public hearing on those things that should be eliminated or encouraged, and re-evaluating how we treat food and agriculture in this country.” But with the farm bill headed for a quick (and secret) trip through the supercommittee, large-scale reforms like hers may not get the consideration they deserve. Although Pingree is optimistic that she’ll get at least some of her proposals included in the supercommittee report, without an out-in-the-open process real change will be shut out of the debate, as will entire states like California, whose gigantic agricultural industry produces the bulk of our “specialty crops.” (Fruits and vegetables, remember?) As for Vermont, Maine, Oregon and other states where small farms are gaining in number and strength: wait five years.
The Republican plan, of course, is to use everything — including the farm bill — as a tool for cuts. But a farm bill that preserves the status quo instead of addressing a food system that causes disease and wrecks the environment isn’t even marginally serious about deficit reduction. By 2030 Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease will combine for costs of more than $1.5 trillion — not over 10 years but annually! Need I remind you that these are both preventable, diet-related diseases?
The savings are in producing, selling, cooking and eating healthy food, in supporting the farmers who grow it and in getting it to everyone. The farm bill, which shapes agricultural policy, should re-shape it when it isn’t working, not replace a direct corn subsidy with a slightly cheaper indirect one.
Those who are ready and willing to make these arguments publicly may not even get that chance. Our food system deserves a fairer fight than that. So do we.