Local Food and The Farm Bill by Tomas Moreno


One of the largest and honestly most important pieces of legislation that the US Congress passes is the 5-year US Farm Bill. This legislation is the main policy tool regarding US agriculture and affects nearly every aspect of US agriculture from production, to subsidies, international food aid, what the US incentivises farmers to grow or not grow, and food stamps and other similar programs. And it appears that Congress is unable to pass this by the end of the year despite the provisions of the 2008 bill expiring on January 1st.

 One of the effects of this is that it means when these provisions expire, the laws will revert to the regulations that were established in the 1940s and before. A lot of people are predicting this could create an immediate spike in milk prices to $7 per gallon. Now, this is not set in stone and the USDA is saying that this won’t happen.

Nonetheless, this is a big deal. Not only does this potentially create a dramatic rise in prices across the board, but it could really affect the global food production. Luckily, this does not directly affect small farms like the type you would find at your local farmers’ market.

Now, I don’t want this to turn into an indictment of the US Farm Bill nor do I want it to turn into an attack on the proposed cuts therein (like the fact that it is being proposed that SNAP and the food stamps program will be see cuts and/or see stricter eligibility requirements). Instead, I want this to be a way for us to further increase our relationships and connections with our food and our local food producers. So, some of us here at Planting Justice have come together to create a list of some local alternatives that are unlikely to see price spikes.

Local Alternatives:

- Local Urban CSA: Phat Beets. Sign up for the weekly Beet Box CSA http://www.phatbeetsproduce.org/order-a-beet-box/

- Local Holistic Rancher: Highland Hills Ranch - pasture raised animals, Ted Fuller.(530) 908-5672.

- Local Goat Breeder: Green Faerie Farm, Jim Montgomery. (510) 881-6119 Buy a goat from him and start your own goat share with friends!

- Local Urban Farm: Urban Adamah, Volunteer at their urban farm, buy produce, and support this community space right in Berkeley. urbanadamah.org

- Local Community-Supported Kitchen: Three Stone Hearth. Volunteer in the kitchen, take classes, buy nutritious, organic prepared foods. www.threestonehearth.com/‎

- Local non-profit Nursery: Spiral Gardens. Farmers market on Tuesdays. Volunteer in the nursery. Buy plants. spiral gardens.org

- Buy local at your nearby farmers’ market! http://www.ediblecommunities.com/eastbay/pages/articles/harvest08/farmersMkts.pdf

- And of course….. hire us to build a garden at your house!!!!!!!!!

Please, feel free to add any other resources you might know of in the comments so that we can add them to the list and continue to share our knowledge together!