The Farm Bill and Food in the U.S.
There's been lots of talk about the recent passage of the Farm Bill, most of it about the cut in funding for Food Stamp. This new $1 trillion piece of legislation also impacts that quality and price of the food we eat. We'll spare you the time and tedium of combing through the complex, nearly-1,000-page bill. Here are five key things you should know about how the bill impacts our food supply.
You'll know where your meat comes from
Thanks to this bill, you'll continue to know for sure whether the meat you buy was born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S. or in another country. Since last fall, meat producers have been required to put labels on packaging detailing exactly where each product comes from. But corporations including Canadian and Mexican producers, have fiercely fought this measure and tried to get it reversed with the Farm Bill. No such luck. This transparency safeguard is a big win for consumers.
Expect more (and cheaper) homegrown and organic produce
Before, farmers who grew highly versatile crops such as corn, wheat, and soybeans got a lion's share of government subsidies. The new law expands incentives to growers of more specialty foods like berries, nuts, and many kinds of organic crops. It also offers protection for sushi rice, which should prompt more U.S. farmers to grow this grain.
Food prices won't fluctuate as much
This bill revamps agricultural subsidies but doesn't eliminate government assistance for farmers. Rather than receiving payments regardless of crop success or failure, farmers now will pay into an insurance program and receive help only when yields fall short. This should mean there will be less drastic price increases or decreases for most U.S.-made foods.
Catfish just got a lot healthier
Now, if you order a catfish cuisine at a restaurant or buy the fish from a market, you'll know that it has undergone strict inspections. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will now conduct catfish inspections to be sure foreign fish doesn't contain drugs that are banned in U.S. fish farming. This catfish crackdown could make it a hotter, and pricier, commodity, but at least you'll know it's safe to eat.
America's wetlands won't turn to farms
Agricultural companies had been converting America's native prairies and wetlands into moneymaking cropland at rapid-fire rates. The Farm Bill includes measures to discourage farming on virgin soil. Curbing cultivation will ensure more scenic road trips for years to come and help spare further environmental damage to native lands and ecosystems.