The Farm Bill is among the most important, far reaching and costly federal authorizing bills. In 2012 Congress, for the first time in decades failed to meet the 5 year reauthorization deadline and allowed the 2008 farm bill to expire. The fight for a Farm Bill has continued into 2013 and remains unresolved. At stake in the farm bill is our nation’s 2nd largest anti-poverty program (SNAP) which helps to feed more than 45 million Americans. The farm bill sets, cropping, environmental conservation and regulatory programs affecting well over half of the total land area, and every major water body and forest in the United States. The renewable fuels and energy conservation titles of the farmbill are in play, along with invasive species programs even as climate change accelerates. Organic food, genetically modified organisms, nutrition and obesity programs, access to local food and regional food systems; all are addressed in the farm bill and to what extent more resources will be provided to them and how these areas of agricultural will be addressed, will play out in the coming months. This lecture will explain why the farm bill matters and provide an insider’s view of the fight to pass a farm bill in the context of other battles playing out in Congress.

Tom Berry works in Vermont as a field representative for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. His work focuses on environmental, agricultural and energy policy. He serves as the main point of contact between the Senator and all Vermont constituents, businesses, ngo’s and Vermont State agencies on these issues.

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