For most Americans, the words “U.S. Farm Bill” are nearly meaningless. Unlike hot-button legislation such as the PATRIOT and Defense of Marriage Acts, the citizens of the world’s largest agricultural exporter have never been collectively convinced that this obscure, now 600-odd page law is relevant to their lives.
It is desperately important that this begin to change. The Farm Bill affects our lives every day. It is not only an agricultural law, it is also a trade law, an energy law, and, above all, a food law.
It is no secret that the American food system is utterly broken. While a few agribusiness CEOs and powerful landholding families profit hugely, we are destroying our environment, our health, the livelihoods of farmers in the Global South, and our own social and economic resilience in a future that must move beyond fossil fuels.
By encouraging the consolidation and vertical integration of our production and supply chains, indulging a blind obsession with export profits, failing to adequately develop or fund environmental safeguards, and generally privileging moneyed interests over concerns of national sustainability, the U.S. Farm Bill has contributed to this slow destruction for decades.
Reversing longstanding national policies will be not be easy, swift, or cheap, but that does not mean we should not attempt it. It means the sooner we start, the better.
Molly Abbattista, ’13
Sponsor: Craig Allin