One step closer to funding for community food programs

Government, in many ways, makes gardening look easy. To garden, simply plant seed, water, watch grow, eat food, repeat.

To govern, there are many more steps. And so, for those of you who have been asking for an update on the march of the Farm Bill and the status of the Community Food Program (CFP), I have to tell you…there has been good news, but good news doesn’t mean it’s over.

The latest word on the street is this: The Senate Agricultural Committee has set funding for the Community Food Program funding at $10 million per year. That’s enough to keep local and fresh food programs afloat for the time being.

The process is far from over, though. The committee is scheduled to debate the entire Farm Bill October 24. That’s tomorrow, folks, so hopefully I’ll know more soon. There’s still a chance the funding could be cut, although continued voices from around the country can keep that from happening. There’s no word yet on when the bill actually may hit the Senate floor, and once it passes, there’s that whole President signature/veto thing, etc. etc. etc. Like I said…the process is weighty and takes time.

What can you do? Well, if you already called or faxed your Senators, thank you. If you didn’t get a chance to do so in the last round, there’s still time to participate. If you have a Senator on the Agriculture Committee, you can even make your voice heard before the committee starts marking up the bill tomorrow.

Calling is your best bet this time around. If you call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senators’ offices, you can make a difference to make sure this important piece of funding stays in the bill.

Now, here’s a little trick I bring you from my pre-Iowa life inside the Beltway…there’s no point in calling to talk to your actual Senator. It’s not that they don’t like you that way, it’s just that…well, you know…they’re rather busy. But they all have someone on their respective staffs who handles agricultural and nutrition issues. Ask to speak to that person. On this front, they’ll have the good Senator’s ear.

So that’s the latest. As I said, it’s much easier to garden. But this is a worthy cause and besides, here in the U.S., the growing season’s wrapping up. Use this call as an opportunity to take a quick break from your garden clean-up, and you’ll make a difference for Americans everywhere.

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