A Lost Opportunity on the Farm Bill

Every five years or so, a new Farm Bill rolls around and the Farm Bill introduced in the House last week is a gutter ball of the first order. Developed in a highly partisan process that virtually shut out Democratic voices, the bill is a massive gift to the pesticide industry and other special interests. It exempts pesticides from the Clean Water Act and weakens EPA’s ability to regulate pesticides that end up in our food and waterways. It introduces highly dubious work requirements for SNAP recipients and even weakens school food programming that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to low income kids. What were the Republicans who developed this bill thinking?

And what were they NOT thinking? This Farm Bill could have done something positive by responding to the swell of interest in slashing the 40% of our food supply that goes to waste each year.

Consumers waste food and their families’ food budget due to confusion over the date labels posted on food packaging. Common sense legislation could have established a user-friendly, uniform date label system, bolstering the voluntary guidelines already embraced by the food industry and rectifying the patchwork of inconsistent state level standards that are now in place.

The Farm Bill introduced by the House could have included broader protections for food businesses that donate food to people in need—but it doesn’t. Can’t we all agree that landfilling good food is a bad idea when 41 million Americans aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from? Research dollars could have helped position the U.S. as a leader while supporting the analysis needed to cut waste, save money for businesses and consumers alike, and avoid the unnecessary use of energy and water to produce food that goes uneaten.

Come on, Congress. You can do better than this. We hope that more common sense will prevail when action on the Farm Bill moves to the Senate.

About the Authors

JoAnne Berkenkamp

Food System Efficiency Advocate, Food Waste Initiatives, Health and Food, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program
Blog Post

The House Republican Farm Bill would undermine protections for public health, make it harder for struggling families to put food on the table, and weaken environmental protections for endangered species, forests, and working lands.

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