by Daniel Imhoff
Updated for the 2012 Farm Bill Debate. Food Fight was first published in 2007 to educate Americans about a little understood but extremely important legislation known as the Farm Bill. At the time, there were no other books like it, and by most accounts, Food Fight soundly accomplished its singular communication goal: to make the Farm Bill accessible to millions of concerned citizens.
Why the Farm Bill Matters If you pay taxes, care about the nutritional value of school lunches, worry about biodiversity or the loss of farmland and open space, you have a personal stake in the tens of billions of dollars committed annually to agriculture and food policies. If you're concerned about escalating federal budget deficits, the fate of family farmers, a food system dominated by corporations and commodities, conditions of immigrant farm workers, the state of the country's woodlands, or the marginalization of locally raised organic food and grass-fed meat and dairy products, you should pay attention to the Farm Bill. The dozens of other reasons the Farm Bill is critical to our land, our bodies, and our children's future include:
- The twilight of the cheap oil age and onset of unpredictable climatic conditions;
- Looming water shortages and crashing fish populations;
- Broken rural economies;
- Euphoria over corn and soybean expansion for biofuels;
- Escalating medical and economic costs of child and adult obesity;
- Record payouts to corporate farms that aren't even losing money;
- Over 35 million Americans, half of them children, who don't get enough to eat.
"The farm policies we design now will likely determine whether we will continue to have a sustainable food system in the future," writes longtime North Dakota organic farmer and food activist Fred Kirschenmann, in the introduction to Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill. Although the economic challenges of modern agriculture may seem abstract to many urban and suburban residents, he argues, "an enlightened food and farm policy is of considerable consequence to every citizen on the planet." We all do have to eat, after all.