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A better food system begins on the farm

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Food and Water Watch is working in Grand Rapids to help enact the Fair Farm Rules--rules that would level the playing field for small farm owners and work towards a more sustainable food system.
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During hunger awareness week, we should take the time to examine our nation's food system as a whole. The staggering number of people in the Kent County region alone who do not have reliable access to food is a sure sign that our food system is not working for most Americans.  In response to this problem, Food and Water Watch is working here in Grand Rapids to help fix our broken food system through the Fair Farm Bill Campaign.


One of the major concerns with the American food system is that year after year, large corporate farms are pushing out small and mid-sized family farms. Independent family farms have been sold out by agricultural policies that favor huge corporations, while the small farms that are the backbone of American agriculture are disappearing by the thousands. The disappearance of the American family farm contributes to the economic and food insecurity that plague our nation.


The good news is that we can make our food system work better for small farmers and our communities. Food and Water Watch is working to ensure there are fair markets for small farmer owners, and that regional food systems benefit rural, urban, and suburban communities. The local, sustainable food that we find at our farmers markets here in Grand Rapids should be available to everyone.


Right now there is a critical opportunity to change the way food policy works in this country. The Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that is reauthorized every 5 years and controls how food reaches our plates: from the way it is grown to its distribution. Therefore, this legislation controls who has access to healthy, sustainable food. Congress passed a set of Fair Farm Rules (GIPSA rules) in the 2008 Farm Bill, which would level the playing field for small farm owners, but the funding to implement these rules is under threat by budget cuts and pressure from large corporations.


This fall, a vote is coming up in the U.S. Senate on the Fair Farm Rules. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and she has the power to stand up for small farmers and local, sustainable food.  In order to do this, however, Senator Stabenow needs to hear from her constituents.  Food and Water Watch is working to show Senator Stabenow that across the state, people from Michigan want to protect small farms and ensure access to local, sustainable food.


To learn more about the Fair Farm Rules, visit, or check out this recent article by Dave Murphy in the Huffington Post.  To learn more about why the Fair Farm Rules are important to Grand Rapids, come to the Food and Water Watch Fair Farm Bill Campaign Kickoff meeting Wednesday, September 21.  The meeting will be held in the WMEAC building at 1007 Lake Dr SE from 7-8 PM.  All are welcome. 

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