Thursday, July 12, 2007

It should be "The 2007 Food, Health, and Farm Bill"

This post should also read URGENT!! for all people vitally interested in real food and real health for our local and regional communities.

Congress is getting very close to finalizing the 2007 Farm Bill, done every 5 years, which determines how billions and billions of our tax dollars are spent. You have an opportunity right now to voice your concerns about how your dollars have been spent in the past plus your opinions about how you would like your money spent in the future.

In a nutshell (paraphrasing from, current farm and food policies create an unfair playing field - one that works at the expense of healthy foods, local markets, family farmers, and the environment. Your help is urgently needed to bring our communities access to affordable. healthy, sustainably-produced, and locally-grown food today.

Many individudals and health, nutrition, and environmental organizations have been spending considerable time understanding the language and components of the bill, monitoring the progression of this bill, and then communicatng the importance, urgency, and opportunities for citizen input to this bill.

There are many places to read more detailed information about this bill, a summary of the concerns, and hopes for its final composition. One place is an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 11 (linked to the title of this posting). I also urge you to read information on the following web sites:
• Center for Health and Environment
• The Healthy Farm Bill and
* The Environmental Working Group
• Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
• Community Food Security Coalition

I have already written several letters to both of my senators and my congressional representative urging them to consider my points of view when writing or voting on the bill this month. Again, using information from, these are the points that I have emphasized for inclusion in the 2007 Farm Bill:
(1) Increase access to healthy affordable food, such as farmers markets and farm-to-school programs, plus hospitals and nursing homes,
(2) Help build a new generation of entrepreneurial farmers serving local and regional markets,
(3) Ensure fair access to agriculture programs for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,
(4) Expand conservation and farmland protection programs to help farmers meet consumer demand for healthier and sustainably-produced foods.

I always stress to them that my concerns and perspectives are as a Registered Dietitian focused on both cancer prevention and cancer survivorship but also (and maybe even more importantly) as a mom, a potential grandmother, and a concerned citizen and voting constituent of their state.

Please, please, please take this opportunity to add your voices in support of these potential changes to the 2007 Farm Bill. which will improve the economics and overall health of your community by increasing the availability and affordability of healthy, locally and sustainably produced foods. One place that you may contact your senators and representative to send a short note of support is at the following web site:

I will close with this quote, which seems quite apt for this moment. I can especially relate to the lines "know your garden" (I added "or your farmers") and "do not look outside yourself for the leader".

"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour,
now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered . . .
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden (or your farmers-DD).
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader."
Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said,
This could be a good time!"

• Attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona

Yes, this could be a 'good time' if enough citizen input is provided now. I am hopeful.

My late-planted beans are coming up, and the tender shoots and/or remaining seeds have not yet been discovered by my local chipmunks, groundhogs, and birds! (wish me luck) :-)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

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