The Farm Bill has undergone three dramatic shifts in focus in the last 80 years, writes Imhoff in chapter 15 of Food Fight, A Citizens Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill.
1961: Kennedy administration introduces food stamps.
1981: Land preservation and conservation are added as a title
Late 1980’s: Management of agricultural supplies and surplus goals change into a focus on subsidizing the expansion of corn, wheat and soy.
Titled Wedge Issues, section two of Food Fight lists seven considerations that could play an important role in future Farm Bill negotiations. These include:
Government deficits: The Farm Bill is expensive. What happens when the public doesn’t want to support it any longer? Will other agencies like public health, defense or energy be required to pitch in?
Energy: Corn-based ethanol has received much Farm Bill support over the last decades ($6 billion annually - pg. 109) Will the public tire of this too?
Health Care: Obesity is on the rise and metabolic disease plagues our population. Will citizens stand up for a healthier food system?
Climate change: Modern day agriculture and our food system contribute approximately 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane (25 times more potent than CO2) a result of animal husbandry, and nitrous oxide (300 times more potent than CO2) from fertilizers. Will Mother Nature force agriculture to change?
We’ll look closer at each topic in the following weeks.
It’s a short book group week – so let’s add in a plug for whole grains; they aren’t bad guys! We need whole grains for energy to run healthy bodies and minds, but most of us don’t know anything about cooking them. Here’s a chart from Cool Cuisine – Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming(Stec/Cordero 2008) that offers various styles alongside the amount of liquid and time needed to cook. Have you ever cooked emmer, buckwheat or hato mugi (Japanese barley)?
- courtesy of Cool Cuisine