"This is going to be the most important environmental bill of the entire year."
That's what Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR) says about the 2007 Farm Bill in today's BlogTalk Radio program, in which he and Rep. Ron Kind (WI) detail their efforts to stimulate discussion of major farm policy reforms. Listen to the archived program here.
Topics included country-of-origin labelling; how to improve local food networks; redistribution of farm subsidies; strengthening of conservation programs and water quality protection; the problem of corporate consolidation in agriculture; increased aid for growers to convert to organic practices; and the congressmen's lack of enthusiasm for corn-based ethanol as a biofuel.
Even more interesting was talk about the nitty-gritty of congressional politicking in this area, and the difficulty of taking on special interests that are deeply invested in the status quo.
The Farm Bill may pass out of the Agriculture Committee (on which neither Blumenauer nor Kind sit) next week and so reach the House floor by the end of July.
Quite a bit of debate persists, even among progressives, about the usefulness of Blumenauer and Kind's approach, and I hope to return to that discussion in coming days. For now, however, if you like what you hear, please consider signing the Food & Farm Bill of Rights petition (also linked in sidebar), and/or contacting your congressperson to express what you'd like to see in this year's bill.