Sunday, November 4, 2007

Michael Pollan gets an LTE from me (if the NYTimes would print it)

Michael Pollan wrote another stellar article about the state of the Farm Bill and why it affects every single American. Man, I love that guy! Here's the link...
Yet there was one part that I had trouble with: "And then the farm lobby did what it has always done: bought off its critics with “programs.” For that reason “Americans who eat” can expect some nutritious crumbs from the farm bill, just enough to ensure that reform-minded legislators will hold their noses and support it. It’s an old story: the “hunger lobby” gets its food stamps so long as the farm lobby can have its subsidies. " Hey now! Mr Pollan, you are the Dude, but let's not be hasty. I don't have a direct Pollan hot-line to talk to him, but I am a media activist. So here's my letter-to-the-editor for him, though it may never be printed:
Michael Pollan is a hero of mine. He gave us another splendid piece in “Weed it and Reap” on 11/4. However, I take issue with his insinuation that the “hunger lobby” was bought off by food stamp funding. As an active member of an anti-poverty advocacy group, I do not feel in any way satisfied with the current state of Farm Bill negotiations. ‘Irritated,’ ‘dismayed,’ ‘angered,’ or ‘betrayed’ could all accurately describe how I personally feel about it. Even if many democratic representatives were bought off, the grassroots hunger lobby wasn’t. Bread for the World sent out a call to action last week for members to urge their senators to support the Lugar/Lautenberg and Grassley/Dorgan amendments, the same amendments Pollan cites as opportunities for improvement. We stand together on this, Mr. Pollan. We are for eating and eating well.


Anonymous said...

How do you expect small farmers to survive. You, yes you the writer yourself are subsidized just as much as any large factory farmer. Your transportation, your unemployment insurance, your regional market controls. If you think the hardworking farmers, most just struggling to stay out of the red, don't deserve subsidies then maybe neither do you (especially if you can afford to have a library of Pollen's books. Has Pollen ever tried to run a farm in a world were CEOs make billions of dollars with subsidized bailouts and tech people make billions of dollars for not producing anything? I would like to see Mr Pollen to see how the other half live.

CCYL said...

Pollan and I are both fans of small farmers. The subsidy cuts that I lobbied for in 2007 would have helped even the playing field for farmers of modest means.

Here is an excerpt from Bread for the World's statement on the previous Farm Bill that helps clarify my position:
"The existing commodity program predominantly rewards a small number of farmers growing certain crops. At the same time, many farmers receive low prices and depend on these government payments to keep their farms afloat. The existing programs skew the benefits to the largest growers, divert scarce resources from rural development, and undercut farmers in the developing world. The United States needs a broader, more equitable safety net that works better for small and moderate-sized farms. U.S. farmers who want to grow barley, broccoli, pears or pecans, for example, should have the same safety net as those who grow the five program crops the current farm bill now supports. Reforming the existing commodity payment program would also help small-holder farmers in poor countries get a higher price for their own crops and give them a better chance to escape hunger and poverty."

Does that help to clarify? By the way, I read his books from the public library.