Saturday, March 12, 2011

FARM SUBSIDIES, SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE, AND SOME HOPE

I've been so riveted these days by goings on in Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states regarding rights, activism,  and budgets that I've gotten behind on my foodie research.  Ironically though,  many of the states which have been taken over by governors hellbent on striping workers' rights and also on selling their states to corporations are FARM STATES.   To understand farm states and also the federal budget one must get a handle on the topic of Farm Subsidies.  Read below Mark Bittman's outstanding article on the topic.  He did another on Sustainable Agriculture recently that's also a must read.  And if you're feeling depressed about citizens losing their rights, you'll be encouraged when you read about a town in Maine that has passed an ordinance to exempt small farms and home kitchens from federal and state licensing.

Don't End Agricultural Subsidies, Fix Them  Mark Bittman
Agricultural subsidies have helped bring us high-fructose corn syrup, factory farming, fast food, a two-soda-a-day habit and its accompanying obesity, the near-demise of family farms, monoculture and a host of other ills.

Yet — like so many government programs — what subsidies need is not the ax, but reform that moves them forward. Imagine support designed to encourage a resurgence of small- and medium-size farms producing not corn syrup and animal-feed but food we can touch, see, buy and eat — like apples and carrots — while diminishing handouts to agribusiness and its political cronies.
Farm subsidies were created in an attempt to ameliorate the effects of the Great Depression, which makes it ironic that in an era when more Americans are suffering financially than at any time since, these subsidies are mostly going to those who need them least. (Read whole article.)

Sustainable Agriculture Can Feed the World? Mark Bittman

The oldest and most common dig against organic agriculture is that it cannot feed the world’s citizens; this, however, is a supposition, not a fact. And industrial agriculture isn’t working perfectly, either: the global food price index is at a record high, and our agricultural system is wreaking havoc with the health not only of humans but of the earth. There are around a billion undernourished people; we can also thank the current system for the billion who are overweight or obese.
Yet there is good news: increasing numbers of scientists, policy panels and experts (not hippies!) are suggesting that agricultural practices pretty close to organic — perhaps best called “sustainable” — can feed more poor people sooner, begin to repair the damage caused by industrial production and, in the long term, become the norm. (Read whole artitcle)

Maine Town Passes Landmark Local Food Ordinance 
SEDGWICK, MAINE – On Saturday, March 5, residents of a small coastal town in Maine voted unanimously to adopt the Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance, setting a precedent for other towns looking to preserve small-scale farming and food processing. Sedgwick, located on the Blue Hill Peninsula in Western Hancock County, became the first town in Maine, and perhaps the nation, to exempt direct farm sales from state and federal licensing and inspection. The ordinance also exempts foods made in the home kitchen, similar to the Michigan Cottage Food Law passed last year, but without caps on gross sales or restrictions on types of exempt foods. (Read whole article)

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