Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pet cause

OK, I know you all care deeply about the Farm Bill and its being up for renewal this year.

What? You don't?

Well you should.

This one bill affects a lot more than whether farmers get handouts. First of all, those "handouts" are 80% given to a couple large corporations. The vast majority of rural farmers, the kind that we imagine in our Old MacDonald fantasies, don't get much more than they need to pass over to the corporations who own the patents on their seeds and fertilizer. That's why most of them work second or third jobs.

So there's that, the stupid way we handle farming.

Then there's the environment. Yes, it would be lovely if we could all go organic, but the fact is that conventional is cheaper and that goes a long way in our country. So the earth suffers while we put pesticides and fertilizers on it, then modify the plants to stand up to them, and let it all run off into the groundwater. And I'm not even going to get into the manure ponds on factory farms. Suffice to say, ew.

Speaking of, there is that little issue of animal cruelty. Doe-eyed cows your thing? Then you need to care about what's in the farm bill.

Oh, and did you know that our artificially inflated prices (subsidized by the gov't) for basic crops (soybeans, corn, wheat, etc) mean that other countries' farmers can't compete and therefore can't make a living farming? Yeah, that's being a good world citizen.

So not only do lots of people in the US go hungry, lots abroad do too, because they simply can't afford to compete. It's more cost effective for a farmer to grow corn and dump it in the garbage under current subsidies - and I'm sure the people starving around the globe could find good use for that corn.

Basically, hopefully, you can see that if you have any pet cause at all, you can pretty much trace it to the farm bill. So I hope you'll consider thinking more about this. You can find out a lot more at Bread for the World's "take action" website (note the menu of action choices on the left).

And if I can't convince you, check out my current fave author, Michael Pollan.
The Way We Live Now: You Are What You Grow
Will this year’s farm bill make us fatter and sicker? (oh, right - if you care about public health, that's a farm bill issue too)

No comments: