In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

  • Food and Water Watch released a report on lobbying and the Farm Bill. The bill, which dictated over $300 billion in spending between 2008 and 2012, has huge political and agricultural ramifications. The report estimates about $173.5 million spent in lobbying efforts on the 2008 bill. The bulk of this was spent on commodity programs. This large figure is important to consider in light of current Farm Bill negotiations in the House and Senate.
  • The largest issue facing farmers this summer is an incredible drought that has been affecting harvests across the country. Midwestern farmers have been hit the hardest, particularly growers of commodity crops such as soy and corn. Those crops are so threatened that their futures prices are skyrocketing, as demonstrated in these charts from Grist. Price hikes in staples will lead to food price increases in the coming months.
  • The USDA released an updated version of its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass and map. The map highlights USDA-supported efforts in local agriculture. Wholesale and farmers markets, farm-to-school initiatives, healthy food access, and local meat production are just a few examples of the types of projects represented. The compass is a nice tool for discovering USDA efforts in your area.
  • A piece on AlterNet explores the consequences of harsh anti-immigration policy on farm labor in agricultural states. The result of increased deportation and stricter border control in states like Alabama and Georgia has been a drop in the number of available farm laborers, who are often illegal immigrants. Farm labor is difficult and highly undervalued, with many jobs paying less than minimum wage. It is increasingly important to bring laborers into conversations about farm policy.
  • Marion Nestle draws attention to a recent report from the USDA on our daily calorie consumption. The report shows that we consume about 30% of our daily calories outside of the home, and about 25% in snacks. Women consume about 1800 calories per day, and men about 2500. Nestle argues, though, that these numbers are still lower than more controlled studies that don't rely on self-reporting of calorie intake.

    About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.