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SPRINGFIELD – The federal package of laws known as the ‘Farm Bill’ touches everything about the food we eat, what we pay for it and how it’s grown.
Southwest Missouri residents are invited to a panel discussion about our nation’s food system as Congress prepares to re-authorize the nation’s farm and food legislation in 2012.
The Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) is spearheading events in five Midwest states to discuss the needs and opportunities for the 2012 Farm Bill. The goal is to gain public input from all types of citizens on the effective role of the Farm Bill in supporting an agricultural system that achieves stewardship, prosperity, and fairness.
“That means federal farm policies should support agricultural practices that are good for farmers, good for the environment, and good for America,” said Brad Redlin, Agriculture Program Director for the IWLA.
“Missouri families need to be represented at the Farm Bill table,” said Angela Jenkins, executive director of Moms for Local Foods. “It is essential that we all understand what these laws mean to our health, our pocketbooks, and our food.”
“In a world of rising food and fuel prices, a disturbing lack of food security and safety, and high unemployment, locally produced food is the single light in the darkness of uncertainty,” said Ruell Chappell, president of the Well Fed Neighbor Cooperative. “Locally produced food puts people to work, increases food security, creates sustainable local economies, improves health, and reduces our food system’s dependence on imported oil.”
Chappell said that a resilient, local food system is a solid foundation for growing jobs, keeping wealth in a region, and growing exports.
The event is free and open to the public on April 29, at 6 p.m., at the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center, 2400 S. Scenic, Springfield.
• Brad Redlin, Agricultural Program Director with the Izaak Walton League and Montana farmer;
• Angela Jenkins, RD, LD, Moms for Local Foods, Health is Local, llc;
• Alan Scarrow, MD, JD, producer of Organic Grassfed Beef and Produce.
• Ruell Chappell, president of the Well Fed Neighbor Cooperative, LLC and owner of Gateway Farms, LLC.
The forum is co-sponsored by the Izaak Walton League, Well Fed Neighbor Alliance, Moms for Local Food, Slow Food Southwest Missouri, Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition, and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.
The America’s Food Future discussion is part of a 5-stop tour organized by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and local partners.
“Every five years, a massive piece of legislation called the Farm Bill determines how tens of billions of federal tax dollars will be spent to shape American agriculture. These sessions will help all Missourians – from food growers to food buyers – learn how the Farm Bill impacts our food, soil, air and water and how we can better shape sustainable food and farm priorities,” said Kathleen Logan Smith, executive director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.
Approximately every five years, the U.S. Congress passes a Farm Bill that sets federal policy for agriculture, energy, conservation, nutrition, and rural development. The last bill, passed in 2008, was called the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and carried a price tag of $288 billion. In today’s tough economic times, funding for the Farm Bill will be under increased scrutiny, which underscores the importance of public involvement at these initial stages, event organizers explained.
The Farm Bill Comes to the Table events in Missouri include:
• Kansas City – 6 p.m., Thursday, April 28 – All Souls Unitarian Church
• Springfield – 6 p.m., Friday, April 29 – Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center
• Mansfield – Sunday & Monday, May 1 & 2 – Presentations at the Baker Creek Spring Planting Festival
• Columbia – 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 3 – Launer Auditorium, Columbia College
• Saint Louis – 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 4 – Saint Louis University, Doisy Hall
Each panel discussion features a unique mix of local partners and national experts
IWLA is exploring ways to increase conservation and save federal tax dollars in the 2012 Farm Bill by prioritizing existing conservation standards.
“Conservation Compliance can help ensure that where public money is invested, the public’s interests are protected by requiring basic levels of protections for soil, water, and wetlands. Compliance actions require no additional Farm Bill investment – in fact, they can result in saving federal dollars.” Redlin said.