Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What's a farm? What's a farm bill?

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: Looks like the farm bill won’t have anything in it to stem the tide of bad food coming into our communities. It will provide less money for food stamp users, forcing them to live on potato chips and white bread. And, yes, I know the current program isn’t called “food stamps” but I want you to understand what I’m saying. The program name changes just confuse the issue. To continue: The farm bill will force schools to use USDA surplus stocks, even if there is plenty of good food in the community. Here in the heartland where we raise lots of cattle, schools can get free ground beef to make taco pie and chili. It’s a grade lower than the beef used by dog food companies, but, hey! The budget . . . So far, there’s nothing to suggest that the Monsanto Protection Act will be repealed. That’s the verbiage which also protects other GMO companies, like DuPont, Syngeta AG and Dow, from worrying about GMO labeling or being prosecuted for planting unapproved GMO crops. The new farm bill won’t help beginning farmers. Or do anything to keep local agriculture in our nation. Nothing but payments for big ag insurance, big ag facilities, big ag wreck-the-earth-at-taxpayer-expense. The giant machines that tear up the dirt, dump chemicals, harvest up non-nutritious grain and sick animals—those will still go on. It’s up to family farmers and consumers to keep each other going. For consumers, it’s crucial to take a weekly trip to the farmers’ market and eat what’s fresh and local. For farmers, well, we need to learn how to think and talk like mainstream Americans. We need to agree on some messages. What we're asking the public to do is to think critically, but we're not giving them the tools to do it. So we need to talk like a consumer. For example, dairy farmers talk about POUNDS of milk. Consumers think about GALLONS of milk. Farmers talk about PRICE and want FAIR PRICES. Consumers talk about what they pay at Wal-Mart and want LOW PRICES. Since I talk to consumers all the time, I edit myself constantly. I never say "sow" without explaining it's a female hog with babies. I never say "heifer," "steer," "bull," "lamb," or even "pony," or "mule," without explaining. You can't imagine how many times I've had to explain that a pony won’t grow up to be a horse. And a mule, by the way, is a cross between a donkey and a horse. People think it's just another word for donkey, like burro or ass. The other day, I had to explain to a feed store worker the difference between a hybrid and GMOs. She was too young to know the difference. So, see the problems??

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