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The Diane Rehm Show Tackles Farm Bill

Thursday, May 24, 2012

NPR’s Diane Rehm Show hosted a panel discussion this morning featuring Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jerry Hagstrom of The Hagstrom Report, Chandler Goule of the National Farmers Union and Environmental Working Group’s own Scott Faber.

Faber branded the Senate farm bill as a major “disappointment” because the legislation would create an expensive new entitlement program on top of already unlimited premium subsides for the largest farm businesses and send billions to U.S. and foreign insurance companies.

Faber, EWG’s vice president of government affairs, said lawmakers should give consumers what they want – a farm bill that increases access to healthy food, feeds the hungry and protects the environment.

Also this week, The Washington Post reported that a new W.K. Kellogg Foundation survey found that 93 percent of Americans say they think it’s “very important” or “somewhat important” to “make sure all Americans have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Three-quarters say they support a national program that would double Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly called food stamps) at farmers’ markets, and 64 percent say it’s “very important” that produce be grown in an “environmentally friendly way.”

“These findings would appear to underscore the success of various organizations, progressive school districts, environmentalists, activist chefs, good food advocates and writers and first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign in spreading the gospel about local produce, fresh fruits and vegetables and more healthful diets,” the Post wrote. “The message is clearly sinking in with the American public.”

The Post also reported that 83 percent of those surveyed strongly or partly agreed that “Washington, D.C., should shift its support more toward smaller, local fruit and vegetable farmers and away from large farm businesses.”

In other words, consumers don’t want more of the same. It’s up to Congress to pass the healthy food bill that their constituents want.

Table Scraps:

Dr. Mehmet Oz plugs EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce in a syndicated column that ran on an Oregon news website. His advice: Limit your family’s exposure to pesticides by choosing organic versions of the produce on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.

Tweet of the Day:

Chris Clouten ?@triplec1988 While small progress is better than no progress, it’s depressing that more headway cannot be made on the farm bill: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/05/whats-covered-under-the-farm-bill/257506/

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