I quickly learned this past weekend that the 2012 Farm Bill deliberations aren’t just being watched by folks who live in rural America. A conference in New York City last week demonstrated that many people in our nation’s largest city are also following the Farm Bill reauthorization discussions closely.
As Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan talked with attendees following her speech at the 2012 Just Food Conference, questions about the 2012 Farm Bill were among the most frequently asked, with dozens of students and long-time food policy advocates wanting to know more.
Deputy Secretary Merrigan’s remarks at the conference provided perspective on USDA’s ongoing work authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, including the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) initiative that is promoting local and regional food systems across the country. The Deputy discussed how USDA is helping to create economic opportunities for local farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs while growing the number of farmers, expanding healthy food access and building strong infrastructure systems. Attendees were encouraged by this work – they just wanted to know how the 2012 Farm Bill could be a vehicle to do more!
Deputy Merrigan also urged attendees to tune in on Wednesday, February 29 as she and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack unveil the new Know Your Farmer Compass via webinar. The Compass is an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects and successful producer, business and community case studies You can join the conversation at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at www.usda.gov/live.
In compliance with House Report #112- 284, USDA has calculated the total combined travel costs to be approximately $1800.00 for the traveling USDA staff attending and we are including this information with this posting. As well, please see link below for full agenda: http://justfood.org/events/schedule
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I shuddered at reading that the New York City conference attendees wanted to know how the 2012 Farm Bill could do even more. This while USDA is intent on growing the number of farmers and their economic opportunities which are quite viable what with farmer’s farming the government as well as the land.
It may be that urban attendees are more interested in consumption subsidies such as Food Stamps than in production subsidies. That is a good reason for Food Stamps not be a part of the 2012 Farm Bill. Food aid for the poor in this country should be justified in its own program and not to justify prosperous producer subsidies in a program such as the 2012 Farm Bill.