What does the 2012 Farm Bill mean to me? Well to start it means justice, equity and fairness for all producers, farmers/ranchers, farmworkers, immigrants and people in non-profit who are going out day after day and advocating for those farmers and ranchers who have no voice. It means the difference between rural communities having the right to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits or Food Stamps to be able to put food on their table each day. It means the right to have a fair equitable nutrition plan in the Farm Bill. It even means bringing back thousands for jobs to rural communities, but mostly the Farm Bill is about people. The Farm Bill is for the people; to help the people, educate the people and most importantly feed the people.
For me the food I eat is very important. I feel the more you know about where your food comes from and how it was made and who helped make your food the more aware you become to just how important that food is. Without a Farm Bill putting legislation into law and trying to help the crack down of big agro-business and their use of pesticides, GMOs and other harmful additives to your food they will continue to do so for years to come.
Being Native American, this problem is a big one epically for those who live on reservations. Since the beginning of the first Native person being forced to live on a reservation their way of living as farmers was taken away. They were given terrible canned food with all those different big name chemicals and GMOs. Even their land was taken away and they were forced to live in tiny trailers with holes in them. It’s a similar situation for African American famers as well. Their land was taken away and a lot of black farmers and other minority groups don’t own farms anymore. However, a lot of them would still like to farm again. Putting these amendments in the Farm Bill to help save black and Native American owned farms and make the food on reservations better would be saving both people’s jobs and future health problems.
At the Rural Coalition we take the Farm Bill very seriously and do everything we can to get the voices of the rural communities into the bill. Thanks to the countless hours of our staff and members, we get out action alerts, sign on letters, watch hearings, analyze amendments and try to stay up-to-date on everything that is going on. We can then communicate all this information to the members we serve. The Farm Bill can be very tricky and Congress can throw you a curve ball at any time, so thanks to the creation of the GOAT (Getting Our Act Together on the Farm Bill) process we can come together collectively and way out all the options of what to do until we come up with a conclusion.
We also take frequent trips to Capitol Hill. Either to pass out an important sign on letter we have written, to meet with a Congressman or women, or to go to a hearing. I have had the fortunate opportunity to visit Capitol Hill many times and help pass out sign on letters and other Rural Coalition information. Going to Capitol Hill and being a voice for the Rural Coalition, as well as the rural communities and our members, is a wonderful feeling.
It makes me feel accomplished to know that I am working with an organization that is helping uplift and change the way Congress writes rural communities into the Farm Bill. It also makes me feel empowered to know that somebody my age can do so much to bring so much change to this world. Most youth don’t think they can just walk into the halls of Congress and just voice their issues and have it effect change in that way.
As the executive director of the Rural Coalition Lorette Picciano always says, “Democracy is not a Spectator Sport” which is true if you just sit back idly by and wait for Congress or the Government to fix all your problems you’ll be waiting a while. You got to get up and make change for yourself and your community. It might seem like Congress will not listen to you and not always they will, but if you don’t bring your issue to their feet they will never know.
As a youth, in these times of our country, we are the future. We are the ones who one day will take over for our leaders and elders and become the next generation of leaders. Our elders are all tired from their countless years of service to our country. They paved the way for us to step in and take charge, but we have to listen to our elders and learn from them. Then we can use that information , modernize it, and make it more geared towards the 21st century world we live in.
We try to accomplish this every day in the Rural Coalition, by using many different online resources to spread the word around about all the Farm Bill happenings. We actively use social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to help communicate when a hearing is taking place or what the ruling was on a certain amendment. We also use Constant Contact and Google Groups a lot to help us get out action alerts and sign on letters.
The main message that we try to get out to all the young people is to just start spreading the news and to start your own sign-on letters. We urge you to take action in order to convince Congress that these issues are important and you need a “Fair, Just, Equitable and Sustainable Food and Farm Bill.”