What? You forgot all about this year's most important piece of food legislation? So has most of the country, thanks to the glacial pace with which Congress is moving it along. The latest news is this: After passing the House in late July, the Farm Bill is stuck like a frozen squirrel in the Senate Agricultural Committee, its leadership deadlocked on many of the bill’s terms. If this continues, Congress will have very little time to negotiate (read: horse trade), which means many of the major changes and controversial (read: good) additions will be cast aside so everyone can go home for the December holidays.
I had breakfast yesterday with the one guy I know who’s on top of the bill’s progress—farmer/writer Tom Philpott—and asked him how he thought the bill will fare. “Crappy,” he said, for all of the reasons I listed above. “But,” he added, with a sparkle of optimism, “The next Farm Bill might be the one we were hoping for this time. Five years ago, sustainable farming wasn’t part of the national conversation. Now it is, and this year’s bill has extended this conversation. Public discussion has finally stepped in front of politics. The next bill [in 2012!] I’m more optimistic about.”
I’ll be back with a post mortem in a few weeks (months?) when the bill has finally passed. Until then, start drafting letters to your legislators, postdated for 2012.