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Is our proposed 21st century Farm Bill still cloaked in systemic institutional racism?
by khubaka, michael harris
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 9:20 AM
Today’s White House, agriculture policy makers and President Barack Obama have indicated clear direction toward what a 21st century Farm Bill
will look like to achieve a signature from our Commander in Chief. First Lady Michelle Obama, on her hands and knees, is demonstrating the benefit of Urban Agriculture, her example should give many an indicator of a positive way forward, healing what is hurting our communities.
bancroft2.jpg
bancroft2.jpg

US House of Representative Agriculture Chairman Bill Lucas will chair and lead the negotiation with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwomen Debbie Stabenow in a conference committee yet to be announced. Ag policy reform is a good idea and should ferret out any remaining systemic institutional racism in US Agriculture public policy.

In 1862, during the US Civil War, the United States Department of Agriculture was created to help facilitate a new paradigm with the elimination of “free labor” from chattel slavery. This 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation is finally bringing to light the ongoing connection within US Ag policy preserving the values and beliefs manifest in the 1862 land grant system values and beliefs active today.

In 2013, Immigration Reform is currently on life support, mandating continued uncertainty for 12 million undocumented workers residents of the United States of America, many essential workers in Agriculture related sectors of the US economy.

The vast disparity in 1862 vs. 1890 land grant institutions continues with a "separate and very unequal" notion of support for farm and ranch producers throughout America. The destruction of vast numbers of Black Agriculture and Native American producers is clear. The disparity and lack of program participation for women and other ethnic minorities is an ongoing challenge.

Several billion dollars of tax payer resources may be distributed soon as the cultural transformation of USDA helps to change the culture of “the last plantation in the United States.” Latino, Women, Black and Native America farmers and ranchers may find relief for last centuries systemic institutional racism and discrimination.

Not far from USDA Headquarters in Washington DC remain salient reminders of the chattel slave embarcadero, fundamental to the US Agriculture industry ongoing unique agriculture labor laws. Yes, parts of the US Capitol Mall, housed enslaved human beings for many, many years, today in the shadow of the USDA Headquarters is an amazing investment in preserving the historical legacy of African Americans.

A 21st century US Farm bill without a Nutrition title is very interesting. Roughly 80% of 2008 Food, Conservation and Energy Act provided intent and authorization to support Americans toward nutritional assistance.

The Senate on June 10 passed a plan that would cost $955 billion over a decade. The House on July 11 passed a plan that would cost $196 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, with the lower price reflecting elimination of the Nutrition title, the bulk of U.S. Department of Agriculture spending authorized by the "Farm Bill."

“The bill passed by the House today is not a real farm bill and is an insult to rural America," Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Thursday after the House vote. Still, she said the Senate is ready to negotiate with the House to try and reconcile a final two-chamber version.

Unfortunately, the perfunctory mention of Urban Agriculture in Section 11317 of the House version of a gutted Farm Bill suggests an ongoing and escalated need for an alternative Farm Bill for the nearly 80% of American’s who live within the Urban service boundary. Why is Urban Agriculture excluded from equity and equal opportunity in this version of a 21st century Farm Bill, a positive idea to move Ag law baselines, yet retaining the underlying systemic institutional racism in US Agriculture Policy.

What if the US Senate approved $955 billion version of the Farm Bill included authorization for the Primary Nutrition Assistance Program for elders and children who did not eat last night?

What if a US Farm Bill provided job opportunity, career advancement and community development in the pockets of abject poverty throughout Urban America?

Why not include equitable authorization for agriculture programs in communities, urban and rural America to help reduce the cost of the nutritional aspects of the nearly 80 percent cost of the Senate Farm Bill’s costs?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is reportedly moving House GOP leaders to "expedite" an agreement on a final bill with the Senate. It is clear the House GOP leaders will move a Republican bill dealing with the full Nutrition title of the Farm Bill.

The racially charged assumptions and false perceptions of “Food Stamps” notwithstanding the multi-billion dollar corporate contracts supporting the so-called supplemental nutritional assistance programs will provide ongoing fodder for both Democrat and Republican leaders.

A 21st Century US Farm Bill House and Senate conference report may find common ground before the September 30, 2013 target date.
Speaker Boehner said it best, "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas."

Nearly 1 trillion dollars in tax payer resources is on the line… it seems reasonable a 935 billion dollar construct that provides both Rural America and Urban America a 21st century new law that forms regular reauthorization and a path for ongoing farm policy reform does not need systemic institutional racism to go forward.

Bold leadership by US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and his leadership team is providing cultural transformation at the USDA, clearly the powerful “unseen” hand of US Food Politics is not happy. Millions of American humans will eat or not eat, Millions of dollars in corporate profits may pay record dividends in the balance of this current reality.

During the 2008 Food, Conservation and Energy Act, President Bush vetoed the legislation twice… broad based bipartisan support overturned the veto, twice. A party line vote on a 2013 Farm Bill Conference Report will put our nation’s agriculture system in harm way.

Today’s White House, agriculture policy makers and President Barack Obama have indicated clear direction toward what a 21st century Farm Bill
will look like to achieve a signature from our Commander in Chief. First Lady Michelle Obama, on her hands and knees, is demonstrating the benefit of Urban Agriculture, her example should give many an indicator of a positive way forward, healing what is hurting our communities.