As a California resident and taxpayer, I’m more interested in protecting my state’s soil, air, water and pollinators than supporting corporate profits from agriculture.
Earlier this month, Congress started the long, complex and very political process of deciding how funds will be spent next year for "food, agriculture and rural development." In other words, exactly which parts of the Farm Bill will get our tax dollars next year.
As this process moves forward in the coming months, I hope others will join me in calling on lawmakers to put our tax dollars toward sustainable farming rather than to continue supporting biologically simple (i.e. monoculture), industrial-scale agriculture that is destroying vital soil resources and relies on massive inputs of petroleum-derived fuels, pesticides and fertilizers.
Short-term profits of the Big Six and corporate ag are not in anyone's interest but their own.
Investing in sustainable ag
Everyday it becomes increasingly clear that investment in sustainable ag practices is fiscally wise, providing a big bang for the buck. These investments not only help protect our soil, water and air (and associated ecosystem services), but also help ensure farmers’ ongoing capacity to produce healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, meat and more.
Proposed funding for sustainable ag programs include significant cuts to important programs. Lawmakers are currently considering allocating between $65 million (Senate proposal) and $175 million (House proposal) less than this year’s budget.
Once again, it seems our elected officials are poised to ignore the common good in favor of the short-term profits of large agribusiness interests (and their personal profits?).
PAN is a proud member of the diverse and inclusive, farmer-based National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). We strongly support NSAC's suite of priorities for Farm Bill spending, including farmer-driven research, education and outreach programs that are vital to keeping U.S. family farm operations productive, competitive, and up-to-date with the latest scientific advancements.
The future of farming
NSAC provides a detailed rundown of programs that deserve strong financial support, with a focus on programs designed to:
"...support small and mid-size family farms, protect natural resources, promote healthy rural communities, and ensure access to healthy, nutritious foods by everyone."
Here are a few things we think the Farm Bill conservation and rural development programs should help farmers do:
- Build and maintain soil health to help mitigate against drought, flooding and other impacts associated with climate change;
- Manage crop (and below-ground) biodiversity to protect soil, water and pollinator resources;
- Develop crop varieties and breeds for good productivity under systems with reduced synthetic inputs, greater diversity and increased climate-change stresses;
- Build and protect rural economies through support of the next generation of farmers and ranchers and in support of socially disadvantages and veteran farmers.
Please stay tuned. We'll be highlighting opportunities in the coming weeks and months for you to let Congress know exactly what kind of farming you think they should support — for the common good.