Archive for the ‘Farm Aid’ Category
Each year before the annual Farm Aid concert, the Board of Directors hold a press conference, and invite farmers and other musicians to join them. Farm Aid put together this short video of the conference, featuring Farm Aid President and co-founder Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Farm Aid’s Executive Director Carolyn Mugar, as well as representatives from GrowNYC’s YouthMarket and National Young Farmers Coalition were on the stage.
It’s official! After years of setbacks and political gridlock, President Obama just signed the 2014 Farm Bill, a 959-page behemoth, called the Agricultural Act of 2014, into law.
If you’re tired of hearing about the Farm Bill, we can hardly blame you. Initial Farm Bill negotiations started back in 2010 and it has taken Congress an inexcusable length of time to get something passed. Needless to say, our family farmers and ranchers (and we eaters!) have waited far too long for several critical programs to receive renewed funding.
We’re fatigued, to say the least, and not the least bit impressed with the atrocious, back-door deal made between just four lawmakers, which unraveled unprecedented reforms to commodity programs. That said, several of the most innovative programs in federal farm policy ever were protected in this bill—some even received more funding than we anticipated.
We get into the details of what’s in the $100 billion-a-year bill below, but as a final note, we’ll state that lawmakers have once again dodged implementing deep, structural reforms to our food and farm system.
What does that mean? It means this farm bill fails to secure a fair price for farmers that both covers their cost of production and provides a living wage. It does nothing to control overproduction of key commodities and somehow, under the guise of the “free market,” corporate power and moneyed agribusiness firms gets to proceed unfettered while our farmers grapple in markets so volatile they could give you whiplash. (That’s a rigged market in our opinion, not a free one, but we’ll save that for another blog post…) It means we’ve slashed conservation programs at a time when farmers need everything we can possibly put together to address climate change and rebuild our soil and water resources. It means that our federal government will look the other way as our farmers face corporate abuse and market concentration, instead of using their full authority to do something about it.
The bottom line is—-it’s not enough. This bill won’t steer our agricultural sector towards the true resiliency and diversity it needs for this generation and generations to come. It takes important steps in that direction, but we still have important battles ahead.
Despite the fatigue, we’re not too tired to keep up the good fight and we have to say we’re proud. We’re proud of all of YOU who helped fight for the dozens of amazing programs that we’ve won and who helped ward off nasty corporate lobbying efforts. Whether you joined us at our Action Center, were one of thousands of individuals who signed petitions at the Farm Aid concert the past few years, or are more generally an engaged farmer or eater who is using the power of your voice, we say thanks!
We’ll keep you posted on how to join us in bringing real change to food and agriculture. In the meantime, here are some highlights from the bill:
“We are so blessed to have had Pete Seeger’s presence on the Farm Aid 2013 stage. Rest in peace, Pete Seeger. Thank you for your tireless fight for peace, justice and the planet, and for your music.”
– Farm Aid
Photo: Rick Diamond