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Federal, state, and local government agencies spend billions of dollars a year in ways that affect our food system.
At the federal level, the Farm Bill is responsible for about $10billion in government spending each year, 80% of which goes to supplemental nutrition program (SNAP) recipients, the rest to farms and farmers, especially those who grow commodity crops like corn and wheat. A relatively small portion supports organic farmers and conservation programs. Some people have advocated for less money to go to commodity crops, which largely go to feed animals or make processed food, and more money be allocated for organic food, farmers who grow a diversity of crops, or farmers who set aside portions of their farm for wildlife habitation.
At the state level, governments spend money on school food. In Michigan, K-12 public schools spend about $200million on food and public universities spend another $2million. A growing movement across the country is advocating that money for school lunches (along with other government-run programs like public senior centers) be spent on food from sustainable farmers and processors who use healthy ingredients and fair labor practices rather than awarding contracts to vendors who can provide the cheapest food at the expense of human rights and the environment.
Your state may also have a Buy Local program promoting small-scale or local sustainable growers. Your farmers market may offer reduced prices to SNAP recipients. These are also examples of government spending affecting our food system.
What else have you seen that works? What would you like to see? Send us your thoughts! With so much public money affecting our food and agriculture system, this is an important conversation. Your voice is important.
Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the discussion!
Posted on: November 29th 2016