Image by andrea candraja from Pixabay

Dear Editor:

If you had an opportunity to influence what you eat every day, would you take it? The Farm Bill is written every five years and, to a large extent, dictates what foods are grown, where and how. It influences who has access to food, the quality of that food, which farmers are on the land and how profitable they can be. It also has a tremendous effect on our ecosystem.

When the Congress reconvenes in September, one of their first priorities will be updating and reauthorizing the Farm Bill which actually deals with the entire food system in this country.  Everyone who eats has a vested interest in seeing that this bill supports our interests, and we can do that by letting our legislators know what we want.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D) is a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee which has the opportunity to amend the Farm Bill to direct more investment to: 

1.  Give beginning farmers and especially Black farmers a leg up.  We need more farmers growing nutritious fresh food instead of commodities like corn, wheat and soybeans. 

2. Keep more of our food dollars invested locally and regionally.  Currently our food dollars (and our tax dollars) leave Ohio and are sucked up by the multinational corporations that build big equipment, make chemical fertilizers, and transport increasing amounts of our food from abroad.

3.  Promote soil health and climate resilience through on farm conservation policy.  Real farmers know how to do this, they just can’t earn enough in competition with industrial agriculture to allow them to do it.   

4. Address the consolidation in the food and agriculture system that allows a few large industrial producers and distributors to keep the local companies out.

In addition to money supporting farm programs, the Farm Bill includes the budget for nutritional support programs such as SNAP, WIC, and TEFAP which distributes food products through organizations like schools, and food pantries.  Here, recommended amendments to the 2018 bill could cut down on time consuming application and record keeping processes so that local growers, farmers markets and small food vendors such as bakers and jam/jelly producers could more easily offer their products to SNAP and WIC users.  This would allow more fresh, nutritious food to be offered at affordable prices while providing the local farmers a profitable margin for the food they raise.  

Whatever changes are made to the Farm Bill in 2023 will be in place until its next scheduled update in 2028.  Republicans on the House Ag committee are already bowing to the lobbyists from industrial agriculture and talking about keeping the 2018 bill and budget as is (or even cutting it), so we need to let our legislators know that we want changes that will serve us healthy food!

I am a member of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) that is working with farmers, educators, Senator Brown and our Ohio Representatives to bring about changes to our food system that can improve the health of people, soil, and the climate while providing a sustainable living to all those who work in the food system.  I hope that everyone who wants good food to eat, and wants to support our local economy will discuss the upcoming Farm Bill with their representative to Congress.  

Following are excellent websites to learn more about this continuing bill that affects all of us.  What is the Farm Bill? – National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Link to Senate Ag committee response:  Farm Bill Input | Senate Committee On Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry

Suellyn Shupe

Herald Subscriber

OEFFA member

Fan of good, healthy food

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this commentary piece do not necessarily the express the opinions of The Cincinnati Herald.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *