So many of you might have wondered — the few who read and check here consistently — what happened to the posts here on the FBA. Firstly, came the papers — things are wrapping up here at NYU’s Food Studies department for the semester, and along with the Thanksgiving holiday, I had some research and writing to do.
But more importantly than that, there was a bit of confusion on my end, and frustration around the politics surrounding the farm bill, and whether or not to continue this project. See, maybe some of you heard about the “secret” Farm Bill that was floating around with the deficit reduction “super” committee. Basically the leadership of the House and Senate ag committees, in closed door sessions, were reorganizing the Farm Bill with a bunch of sincerely disengenuous “reforms”, effecting mostly conservation programs (already critically underfunded) and a host of other programs only marginally funded.
But then something happened. The Ag committee chairs failed to meet their deadline, and then so too did the Supercommittee itself. In a matter of weeks, we went from having a farm bill with no public input, no feedback, no lobbying from anyone other than the money to purchase access (sorry to sound conspiratorial, but c’mon!), to having a farm bill that many are now asking “now what?” The general sense is now that we’re back at square one, with any of the examples of cuts we saw discussed in the last few weeks, basically nixed. We’re literally starting from scratch — that’s at least the impression coming across from not only progressive food systems advocates but also the traditional benefactors of farm bill programs and conservative reform groups like the American Enterprise Institute.
This gives us the unique opportunity to spell out, even more aggressively, the details of how and why the Farm Bill operates. I’m pumping out a few more articles in the coming days, and hope to rally on this newfound energy. There’s now a lot of considerations to happen after the December recess — how the 2012 election will fit into farm bill formulation, if and how the Congress will be able to pass it in time for the September 8 expiration of the 2008 bills and allocations. This is a lot to ponder and a lot of excitement — hope to have you along for the ride.