The Farm Bill Has Expired: Five Reasons That's a Big Deal

There's plenty at stake in the Food and Farm Bill—that tome of legislation covering everything from farmers markets to food stamps to farmland...

There's plenty at stake in the Food and Farm Bill—that tome of legislation covering everything from farmers markets to food stamps to farmland conservation. As of two days ago, our 2008 Farm Bill has officially expired, with no viable replacement. What does this mean? While big programs like SNAP (food stamps) are safe for now, several other lesser-known programs are left abandoned, or risk losing their funding altogether. Here are five programs that might matter to you.

1.) Are you a regular at your local farmers market? With the expiration of the farm bill, new farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, and roadside stands do not have access to startup funds.

2.) Prefer organic farming practices? Programs which offer incentives for farmers using sustainable practices or transitioning to organic production, as well as dedicated research funds for organic farming, are on hold.

3.) Care about land conservation? At present, farmers can't enroll sensitive land like wetlands or grasslands in restoration projects.

4.) Want to see young farmers thrive? Programs which provide training opportunities, education, and technical assistance for beginning and young farmers—the future providers of food in this country—risk losing funding altogether.

5.) Do you like knowing which products use organic farming and production methods, and which do not? Programs which help cover the costs of becoming certified USDA organic—a pricey undertaking—are now at stake.

With the Food and Farm Bill in limbo, these important programs have been put on hold and their future remains unclear. I touched base with Dan Imhoff of Food Fight 2012 to find out why he's worried, and how we can be proactive towards a better farm bill.

I see this [expiration] as something to be worried about because it seems that our leadership still doesn't understand the crisis in the food system, and just how fundamental the Farm Bill is to getting things right in society. There is nothing more fundamental than food. And there are some real problems with how and what we are producing. The Farm Bill is our mechanism to right things that are wrong in the farm system, to do things that the market doesn't compensate land owners for, to make sure everyone has access to healthy food. And by ignoring this important debate, they are putting off some of the most important work that should have been done this year. Congress refused to act and I think that's a broader reflection of how dysfunctional things are right now at the national level.


So what can we do? Dan recommends pledging to make a call or write an email to your representative, and urge for a passage of a Food and Farm Bill by the end of the year. He suggests turning to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition or the Environmental Working Group for talking points. He also reminds Californians that we have an opportunity to do something positive at the state level with Prop 37, and require GMO labeling.

Learn more about the Farm Bill from our previous coverage here at GOOD:

Six Farm Bill Amendments You Should Probably Support
Infographic: Making Sense of the Farm Bill
Help Us Make the Farm Bill Better

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet