V i e w p o i n t
From Farm Bill to Fork was having dinner with some of my newspaper reporter friends one night in early August and one of the ladies, a new mom, asked what I was doing now, to which I responded, “I’m still covering organic products.” Delighted at my response, she replied, “That’s great! Do you know what a CSA is? I just joined one.” “It’s a Community Supported Agriculture program,” I said, proud to be in the company of another person joining the movement. “Now I know someone who speaks the lingo,” she beamed. As the night progressed, our conversation inevitably turned to the 2008 Farm Bill. She was full of questions, looking for the inside scoop like any good reporter but, more importantly I think, like any new mom entering the category. But as part of our talk, I was disappointed to learn that our local papers’ coverage (and those elsewhere that I’ve found online) of the Farm Bill appears to have painted a broad stroke over the issues, especially when it comes to organic farming. There’s a lot of talk lately about food and its path from farm to fork. In this month’s issue we review the provisions in the US House of Representatives’ version of the bill, which provides for some $300 million in funding—a bill I hope will begin to level the field for organic farmers. (See page 10) With your support in contacting your elected officials and the Organic Trade Association’s lobbying efforts in Washington, DC we were able to secure such a fantastic bill. But that’s only step one. Next, we need the Senate to draft and approve the same, if not a better, bill that allows for more organic provisions. So it’s back to making phone calls and sending letters to keep the momentum going. When asked what we, the public, can do to help, activist and author Anna Lappé, interviewed for this month’s BackTalk on page 48 noted,
4 Organic Products Retailer
“With the debates in full swing now, we can let our voices be heard by joining with coalitions working on ensuring that values of sustainability, ecological stewardship, and fairness are reflected in our Farm Bill. As individuals, we can also speak up to our elected officials. We also can educate friends and colleagues about the bill, reminding them that it is really a food and farm farm bill.” Lappé, who is also co-founder of the Small Planet Fund and a founding principal of the Small Planet Institute, based in Cambridge, MA, is working with a group of filmmakers producing a short viral video called Farm Bill Food Battle and will eventually be up at www.foodbattle.org. “It’s a fun way to educate people about the environmental, social and health connections to the Farm Bill,” said Lappé. When the time comes, buy the video and host a movie night. Additionally, sign up for e-mail updates via the OTA’s Advocacy Center at www.ota.com/membersonly/login.html. Offer a consumer brochure about the farm bill as a bag stuffer. The farm bill, “Affects how taxpayers’ money will be spent on farm and food programs that influence everything from what’s available in grocery stores and who is eligible for food stamps, to what farmers grow and how farmers take care of our environment,” says American Farmland Trust (AFT) president Ralph Grossi. The reality is, Grossi says, “The farm bill is not well understood or known by most consumers.” To that end, Coleman Natural Foods, a supplier of natural and organic beef, and AFT set out to raise awareness of this federal legislation by producing a new brochure and website (www.ourhealthyland.org). To receive the brochure for distribution, call (800) 370-4879, ext. 17. Lastly, e-mail me (brendap@ vitaminetailer.com) and I’ll share with you the latest updates.
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www.oprmagazine.com ■ September 2007