Congress Updates America’s Farm Bill
This year, Congress will be renewing the Farm Bill, a massive piece of federal legislation that provides financial assistance to farmers and helps determine what foods are available in schools and nutrition programs. For the past several months, PCRM has been working with members of Congress to make sure that the Farm Bill cuts funding for unhealthy foods and gives more support to growers of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options. Although the House of Representatives passed a version of the Farm Bill in late July, the Senate will be working on its own version when Congress reconvenes this fall.
The Farm Bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, most of which go to farmers who grow feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals. By funding these crops, the government is ultimately supporting the production of high-fat meat and dairy products—the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.
The government also purchases surplus foods like cheese, milk, pork, and beef burgers for distribution to food assistance programs—including our children’s schools. The government is not required to purchase nutritious foods. But now Congress has a chance to change the system that has helped create a surplus of cheap, widely available, and unhealthy products for decades.
When the House of Representatives debated the Farm Bill in July, PCRM, along with many other health, public interest, and faith groups, supported the Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment, which was offered by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). This amendment would have limited government subsidies of unhealthy foods, cut subsidies to millionaire farmers, and provided more money for nutrition and food assistance programs for Americans and impoverished children overseas. The amendment did not pass, but it did motivate members of Congress to make some modest changes to the Farm Bill’s subsidy programs at the very last minute.
The House finished voting on the Farm Bill on July 27, and this fall the Senate will have its turn at debating and voting on the bill. PCRM will support legislation that cuts subsidies for feed crops and unhealthy foods and increases support for fruits and vegetables.
What You Can Do
- Help us with the Farm Bill campaign! Receive e-mail Action Alerts about how you can help with the Farm Bill and other PCRM issues by clicking here and choosing “Information on PCRM’s Campaigns and Programs."
PCRM Online, September 2007