The Farm Bill is a large piece of legislation that is renewed every 5 or so years. It includes funding for a wide range of programs (SNAP, crop insurance, conservation, local food promotion, farmer training, and more) that impact everyone in the United States. This year, The Farm Bill is up for renewal and its current draft would fail family farmers and ranchers, hungry Americans, and the environment. It is important that we all take the time to reach out to our Congress people and ask them to support a stronger Farm Bill for farmers, ranchers and consumers.
As awareness of local food grows, more people are becoming interested in understanding the economic impacts of local food systems. While many of us may be motivated to buy local food by values like preserving farmland, supporting small businesses, and expanding access to fresh, healthy food, these goals are economic development goals. Economic growth is a much narrower measure centered on increases in jobs and sales, or monetary value. To be sure, economic growth is a limited way of judging success, but there are times when it is helpful to justify food system initiatives in terms of economic growth to decision-makers like funders or local government officials.
Susan Odom of Hillside Homestead has many concerns while managing her authentic farmstay in the rolling cherry hills of Leelanau county. First, that her guests receive the best experience of a century ago: antique furniture, a huge cast-iron stove fed firewood to push away the morning cold, and gourmet food served like the the home cooking you imagine your great-grandmother gave to the hungry mouths of your family a few generations ago.