Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Catch Farm Bill Fever Tomorrow in Berkeley

By John Birdsall
Wed, Mar 21, 2007 at 4:53 PM

It's as big and complex as a Pentagon appropriation, and for once you can actually make some noise about it. Every five years an unholy alliance of lawmakers from farm states and Big Agro lobbyists decide the fate of the farm bill, a piece of legislation that, among other things, fixes the size of massive agricultural subsidies. It's a decision with perilous ripple effects for farmers around the world, and for once, food and farm activists are angling for heavy citizen involvement. Catch a bit of the heat at a panel discussion tomorrow night at Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium. Michael Pollan will moderate the J-School-sponsored event, which features Ann Cooper, the Berkeley Unified School District's feisty lunch lady, and eco author Dan Imhoff. Full press release after the jump.

Food Fight! A Teach-in about the 2007 Farm Bill moderated by Michael Pollan

Think the Farm Bill Doesn't Concern You? Think Again.

Michael Pollan will moderate a panel discussion of the 2007 farm bill, now being debated in Congress, with guests Ken Cook; Ann Cooper, Director of Nutrition Services for the Berkeley school system; Dan Imhoff, the author of Food Fight: A Citizen's Guide to the Farm Bill; Carlos Marentes; and George Naylor, Iowa corn farmer and president of the National Family Farms Coalition.

Later this year, the President will sign an obscure piece of legislation that will determine what happens on a couple of hundred million acres of private land in America, what sort of food Americans eat (and how much it costs) and, directly as a result, the health of our population. That piece of legislation is the farm bill, which, every five years, determines the rules by which the American food system operates, rules that end up affecting not only all of us who eat in the U.S., but people all over the developing world. Typically, the farm bill is written with virtually no input from anyone beyond a handful of farm-state legislators. Not so this year. A coalition of public health, environmental, family farmer, community food security, development and immigration groups is weighing in. Nothing could do more to reform the American food system --an by doing so improve the condition of America's environment and public health, as well as the prosperity of farmers throughout the developing world -- than if the rest of us were to start paying attention to the farm bill. Here's your chance.

In addition to the panel, a wide variety of food-related groups will be on hand to pass out pamphlets, answer questions, and provide ways for citizens to take direct action on this year's farm bill.

Food Fight: A Teach-in On the 2007 Farm Bill When: March 21, 2007, 7:00 pm -- 9:00 pm Where: Wheeler Auditorium Tickets: $5/Free UCB students Zellerbach Ticket Office 510.642.9988 Event will be webcast: http://webcast.berkeley.edu/events.php Sponsored by the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism

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