Farm Bill 2023: A Major United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy

Guest blog post by Sasha Miller, Purplebrown Farmstead and Farm Store

Image Credit: Purplebrown Farmstead

More folks should discuss the farm bill when it renews every five years because it affects so much of our society through its policies and funding allocations. The farm bill not only determines in part what we eat and how much it costs, but also influences the wages of workers, who is able to become a farmer, the level of social support for improving food access, and what type of support is provided at all.

And, in the context of current climate challenges, the farm bill has a major impact on our collective carbon footprint, by encouraging certain agricultural production methods through its policies. For instance, conventional agriculture practices include nitrogen and topsoil runoff, major algae blooms in our lakes, methane pollution from CAFOs, and deforestation of vital forests for pasture and crops. These practices are incentivized through the farm bill and other USDA programs and lead to climate instability, tragic droughts, more frequent floods, wildfires, and more.  

Organic farmers have remained motivated to produce healthy food in healthy soil, in spite of social, economic, and political challenges. Because we’ve always known—and by now sufficient scientific research has proven—that organic practices are essential for healthy soil, healthy food, and a healthy planet. Small organic farms can, and must, carry the awesome burden of nourishing our communities if we are to see a brighter future for our planet.  

Image Credit: Purplebrown Farmstead

Supporting Small and Sustainable

Small organic farms stimulate local economies and keep more dollars in communities, improve the quality of life for neighbors, and create meaningful job opportunities for diverse people. It would be extreme to say that small organic farms can feed the world, but they sure can steer us toward a more stable climate and healthy society. Still, major obstacles remain in place to expand organic production for wider benefit, because our policies are decided by those involved.   

This year, the farm bill can substantially correct the course to positively and immediately affect our climate and social welfare, with a focus on organic production and small, diversified farms. Senator Sherrod Brown, a long-time supporter of small organic farms, is sponsoring several marker bills that promote soil health and climate resilience, support beginning and BIPOC farmers, strengthen regional and local food systems, and invest in organic and sustainable research. All these programs would meaningfully impact our collective future, as part of the 2023 Farm Bill.  

Image Credit: Purplebrown Farmstead

Give the Farm Bill the Attention it Deserves

I encourage everyone to call their representative, talk to a neighbor, and learn more about the 2023 Farm Bill. It doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Do we want to see more quaint little farms dotting the rural countryside, growing organic food, employing local workers, and keeping our communities healthy? Or, do we want to continue with the large polluting farms, increasing weather extremes, and poor rural communities desperate for financial support? The future is clearly related to what happens with the 2023 Farm Bill.