With an expert panel, organizers want guests to consider food and farming policy challenges, opportunities and action in the New Year.
The Urban Outreach Specialist and New York City Coordinator for the USDA Farm Services Agency details how this legislation impacts our everyday lives and what we can do about it.
This week, our editors read articles that ask questions about breakfast, the artisanal food craze, and the Farm Bill.
Earlier this week I attended the second annual “Fill Our Shelves Luncheon” for the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, which is housed in the basement of the Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew on West 86th Street and West End Avenue.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw that American farmers were producing too much; they weren’t earning off their extra work or surplus. In came the New Deal with the first-ever Farm Bill, set to end overproduction by paying farmers to grow less. In the ’70s, a man named Earl Butz, Secretary of Agriculture at the time, thought that idea was nuts, and so he paid farmers instead to “get big or get out”–referring of course to farming by the thousands of acres and those devoted to just a few crops. It was a perfectly good idea at the time for a country still discovering the value of its land and thenew global marketplace, which seemed to have no problem taking on the surplus. We couldn’t know then what has happened, which has also included farmers growing more crops for secondary, inedible products like corn syrup and cow feed rather than feeding us.
I sat down to a friend’s dinner table last week with a hunk of acorn squash roasted in brown butter, a mixed greens salad with a yogurt vinaigrette, root vegetable fritters, various jars of home-pickled and home-jammed produce, bread with goat cheese and red wine (a nice spicy one, for under 20 bucks)–all grown or produced within 30 miles. The meal was made by a 20-something farm intern in upstate New York, who’d love to hear good news next week. That’s when The Farm Bill, renewed every five years (most recently in 2008), might reach the legislature more than a year before it should.
As renewal of the Farm Bill approaches in 2012—renewed every five years or so, it was last updated in 2008—we decided to take a…