What is the Farm Bill?

Farm mother picking strawberries, Florin, CA (1942). Photo by Dorothea Lange, courtesy the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives, University of California.

USDA programs and services affect our communities. The Farm Bill is how they are decided.

Let’s take part.

The Farm Bill will spend at least $994 billion over the next 10 years. It is renegotiated every five years by Congress.

At that time, programs are added, removed, and funding for each is decided. Our current Farm Bill is set to expire September 30, 2012. This is our chance to let our employees (a.k.a. our Senators and House members) know exactly what improvements we’d like to see in the new Farm Bill.

We may not realize how many programs around us, that affect our lives, are funded or supported by the Farm Bill.

For example, a USDA Community Food Projects grant was awarded to East Bay Asian Youth Center in Oakland, California in 2009. They used it to build school-based farmers markets, employing parents to manage the markets and helping provide fresh, delicious produce at the entrances to 25 schools in Oakland.

In Fresno, Richard Molinar is part of a team that helps Hmong and Mien farmers get the most value from their crop. They teach marketing, financial management food safety requirements, and sustainable farming to a limited-English population that sincerely wants to farm. They also work to increase knowledge of traditional Asian vegetables in California. This program received funds from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program of the USDA.

From the advocacy group Live Real: