The Farm Bill will soon come up for a vote, and we need to keep up the clamor for a bill that preserves, protects, and supports small struggling farmers and that enables us to continue buy fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices at farmers’ markets. I cringed at a Washington Post headline the other day that referred to lobbyists gearing up for the next budget fight. Most lobbyists shouldn’t even have a role in the process, much less the kind of access that allows them to write the bills, which is exactly what has happened with large parts of the Farm Bill.
I was heartened, though, by another story in the paper this past weekend about grocery stores coming out against stocking and selling GMO salmon in opposition to the government’s permitting the sale without notification. These retailers are responding to a huge grass-roots groundswell of antagonism to the idea of eating these fish, and while our own government isn’t listening, the retailers are getting the message.
We can make a difference, and as in any battle, we just have to recruit and train the troops and provide them with the ammunition they need to argue a point and get it across. I will surely receive more emails from a variety of organizations over the next few weeks letting me know how to let our voices be heard on the Food Bill. Some go as far as to send prefab notes and emails and to provide a list of our representatives in Congress, as well as committee members who will vote on the language.
Having worked for my own congressman in a district office, I know that a call or a note can mean even more. The staffers who pass messages along will include your personal comments. You might even know more about the bill’s impact than your representatives do. Let them know, and share what you have learned. It will be a more credible comment than a computer-generated message. This is the way of the world of grass-roots lobbying now, but those messages that pour in from interest groups who have passed along their wording to thousands still do not carry the weight of a personal note, email, or call to your representative’s office.
I won’t comment on the Farm Bill again — there is too much other good and bad news to pass along — but I will continue to include links to updates. Thanks for caring and getting involved: this bill could make or break some of your favorite small farmers.