Apparently the 10th time's the charm. After nine previous attempts to get the Pigford vs. Glickman settlement funded by Congress, the 111th Senate has appropriated $1.15 billion to resolve the many longstanding lawsuits filed by black farmers systematically discriminated against by the USDA. "This is a huge, huge victory for myself and black farmers, many of whom have died waiting for justice," said John Boyd of the National Black Farmers Association. "I have been working on this thing for 26 years. I've been hearing 'no' for so very long." The initial lawsuit was settled out of court in 1997. However Congress has since failed to appropriate the funds necessary to address farmers' claims. The legislation must now go back to the House for passage during the lame duck session in order to become law. Both President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack applauded this recent decision. Obama issued a statement Friday saying, "I urge the House to move forward with this legislation as they did earlier this year, and I look forward to signing it into law." For updates on the Pigford Settlement and upcoming legislation visit the National Black Farmers Association website.
In today’s Washington Post Outlook Section, writer Jane Black offers some advice to those engaged in the struggle to change the food policy (or lack thereof) of the US.
“To bring real change, policymakers need to look at the system more holistically — because everything, as foodies see it, is connected. Federal subsidies of grain and corn make it cheap to produce meat. Industrial meat production, which takes advantage of cheap feed, is responsible for about one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases. Eating too much meat and too many processed foods made with corn products such as high fructose corn syrup has contributed to the sharp spike in obesity over the past 30 years.
Michael Pollan, the author of the bestselling ”The Omnivore”s Dilemma” and the spiritual leader of American foodies, summed it up in an open letter to the new president in the New York Times Magazine last October. He urged Obama to make ”reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change.”
Linda Maggio, an Animal Welfare Approved farmer in North Carolina commented on a recent blog of ours with some ideas.
How do you think we can best affect change?