In the last few weeks I have tried to share with all of you info about
opportunities to share your 2cents about the outcome of the Farm Bill.
Yesterday in our Mott Group discussion we were working on our business
plan, specifically our Vision Statement. When we got to the words about
Local several of the members asked what do we mean by "Local" and what
direction are we aiming? To consider the ecnomics of Michigan thus
consider food produced in the northern part of Mi to be local for folks
in Detroit or to consider a radius and not observe state boundaries.
What do you think of when asked what is local and realistic, for eating,
selling and transporting??


Here is an article from Metromode 11/8/07  that is interesting and
discussing an aspect of this.


Green Space: What is the FRESH act and why does it matter?

metromode, 11/8/2007 

Even if they live in a totally urban environment, the average person is
beginning to pay a whole lot of attention to where his or her food is
coming from. Many are even taking a closer look at the annual farm bill.
And asking lots of questions.

The basic scoop is that each year, Congress and the Senate have a
showdown about the farm bill. Agricultural interests are usually the
only people watchdogging the issue. But things have changed. Suddenly,
the bill is attracting attention from all over the nation and, with
attention comes criticism.

Michael Pollan, who wrote the book The Omnivore's Dilemma, described the
problem like this in the great op-ed
n>  he wrote in this past Sunday's New York Times:

Americans have begun to ask why the farm bill is subsidizing
high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at a time when rates of
diabetes and obesity among children are soaring, or why the farm bill is
underwriting factory farming (with subsidized grain) when feedlot wastes
are polluting the countryside and, all too often, the meat supply. For
the first time, the public health community has raised its voice in
support of overturning farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong
kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies
cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water. Also for the
first time, the international development community has weighed in on
the debate, arguing that subsidized American exports are hobbling cotton
farmers in Nigeria and corn farmers in Mexico.

Even with truth on their side, reformers don't expect change any time
this year. An amendment called the FRESH act
<> , sponsored by
Senators Lugar (R-IN) and Lautenberg (D-NJ) proposes an increase in the
amount of money designated for conservation, which is generally seen as
good for smaller Midwestern farmers. It also offers increased support to
actual food-growers and funding for growers transitioning to organic;
creates incentives for fruits and vegetables used in school lunches and
funds EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) machines at farmers' market
across the nation.

A huge sticking point is that the current farm bill subsidizes crops
even when they are netting record-high returns -- like corn these days.
This is why the entire structure needs to be torn down and pulled apart,
something that seems increasingly difficult to accomplish in such a
fractured political system.

But why should you care? Michigan is second in the nation in terms of
crop diversity. Agriculture is a $37 billion-per-year industry and is
the state's second largest revenue- generating endeavor. As the
post-manufacturing days of this state unfold, it seems clear that a
healthy and progressive agricultural industry is essential.

To learn more about the FRESH act, which is being debated this week,
check out Environmental Defense
<>  or Farm
Sanctuary <> . Both
organizations provides link to contact Senators Levin and Stabenow on
the issue if you are so inclined.

Read more about locally grown food in the metromode feature "Home Grown
<> " and
about urban gardening, which really brings food close to its final
destination, in "From Plot to Plate
<> ."

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Vicki Morrone

Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist

Michigan State University

C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems

303 Natural Resources Bldg.

East Lansing, MI 48824


517-282-3557 (cell)

517-353-3834 (fax)

For information on organic agriculture production please visit:

P Please consider the environment before printing this email



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