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Old MacDonald Had a Farm Bill Part 2

March 2nd, 2012 - By Lari Robling

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It comes up every five years and is sometimes perceived as a pernicious weed, but The Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation with far reaching influence. From big agribusiness, small farmers, food assistance programs, fuel for your car, access to locally produced food and more, just about everyone has an interest. Get to know your Farm Bill!


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You know the joke—laws are like sausages, best not to see them being made. Take The Farm Bill, it oversees agribusiness, family farms, bio energy, food assistance programs, farmers markets and a whole lot more. “The Farm Bill is a completely stunning piece of legislation, you look at it and you think of it as just jaw dropping,” that’s Marion Nestle, NYU professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health. She writes about food politics and of course, The Farm Bill.

“It really can’t be understood except historically and as an accretion of programs that got built on one by one by one or another member of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.” The first Farm Bill was written in 1933 to help farmers during the Depression. It’s renewed every five years and needs passage in 2012. There’s so much at stake, every lobbyist, grassroots organization and special interest is putting in their two cents making sure they get their dollars.

Plus, there are regional interests. Gabriella Morah is a project manager for The Food Trust here in Philadelphia and notes these priorities don’t have to be mutually exclusive. “Agricultural environments really go ahead and supply the food for the urban environments.” The Food Trust brought together local interest groups including governmental and non-profit agencies as well as farmers to create a unified voice.

“One of our major interests is public health, and really the epidemic of obesity that has become so prevalent. As well as issues with malnutrition on the other side under nutrition and hunger.” Broader economic issues are also important says Morah, “we can potentially see in the long run decreases in spending for care of a lot of the obesity related co-morbidities that exist in this country, like cardiovascular disease, like diabetes, that’s affecting children and adults. So there can be savings there as well.”

Here in Pennsylvania, Senator Casey supports inclusion of a national marker bill, The Local Farms Food and Jobs Act, encompassing many of these issues. On March 7th, a Senate hearing is scheduled to discuss healthy food initiatives, local production and nutrition. The Food Trust is producing a fact sheet to help people who want to learn more about how this bill affects our region.

The Food Trust and WHYY’s Fit both receive funding from Get Healthy Philly.

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Photo by Flicker user Chiot's Run / CC BY-NC 2.0

Move Over, Kale Chips! Kale Buds Are Here

By Lari Robling - April 18th, 2012

High Tunnel farming caught my eye because its extended growing season adds to the amount of local produce we get. While farm manager Aviva Asher was tidying up the winter crop to make way for spring, I discovered another benefit of local growing: use what you’ve got.

More wisdom »

December 2014
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Get Healthy Philly is part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative, a federal effort to: prevent and delay chronic disease, reduce risk factors, promote wellness in children and adults, and provide positive sustainable health change in our communities.

Food Fit Philly is part of Get Healthy Philly, a program that works to reduce and prevent obesity and related chronic diseases (like heart disease and diabetes) by increasing access to healthy foods that people can afford.

Your body needs help when it's time to quit. SmokeFree Philly is a program of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health that offers support and tools to help smokers quit. The goal of SmokeFree Philly is to: help people to quit smoking, stop people from starting to use tobacco, and reduce heart disease, cancer and other illnesses caused by smoking.

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Philly Food Bucks are coupons that help ACCESS/food stamp customers save money on fruits and vegetables. Philly Food Bucks can be redeemed for $2 worth of fruits and vegetables for every $5 spent in ACCESS/food stamps at a participating farmers' market. Learn more about Philly Food Bucks at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health's recently expanded web site Food Fit Now also accepted at the West Oak Lane Weaver's Way Food Coop.