While there are measures we wish would have made it into the just-passed Farm Bill, we’re pleased that it includes renewal of funding for programs that only started to see serious funding in the 2008 Farm Bill-renewable energy, beginning farmers, organic farming, local food economies, and support for farmers who grow the food we really need to eat, fruit and vegetables. While still a small slice of the Farm Bill spending, it is a positive direction.
It’s hard to believe that we are just one month away from the Farm Bill expiring and yet highly partisan, polarized factions of Congress still have failed to pass a new bill. With one more week before Congress goes back in session, there’s no better time to contact your representatives to urge passage of a full five-year Farm Bill -one that different types of farms can plan around and that those of us who want to eat good local food can count on.
The statewide, nonprofit program helps financially struggling families eat healthy while supporting business for farmers. It doubles the money that people who receive SNAP Bridge Card assistance (food stamps) have to spend with local farmers at farmers markets. That means it’s helping federal dollars governed by the Farm Bill have much more of an impact on local farm economies than, say, the grocery section at Walmart.
The good news for food lovers in northwest Lower Michigan is that the bustling Traverse City farmers market has extended its two-day a week market season for four more weeks. And it’s also four more weeks before Congress gets back to work after the elections-and when House members ought to buck up and work to pass a Farm Bill that they let expire Sept 30.
House leaders are preparing to go home Friday without bringing up for a vote a Farm Bill that passed with bipartisan support in its own House Agriculture Committee. Waiting until next year is unacceptable.
The school year is about to start. And after the Republican and Democratic conventions, Congress will be back in session. Many are hoping Congress will resume debating the new Farm Bill, including provisions that could mean more fresh, local food for students in schools.