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Do you eat? The farm bill makes a difference in your life
Last week, I had a chance to listen to two experts from the Department of ACE, Jonathan Coppess and Gary Schnitkey, discuss the farm bill. Every month, the ACES communications and marketing team brings in experts from around the college to discuss a topical issue with the public through our #askACES Twitter chat. Every time, I learn something new, and this chat was no exception.
I must admit I was a little skeptical. I’m from the suburbs. And unless you could stretch the definition of a farm to include my flower garden, I have no farming experience. But it turns out the farm bill is not just about farms.
Coppess says the name is actually a bit of a misnomer. “We think of it as a food security bill,” he said. “Really, if you eat, the farm bill will make a difference in your life.”
It makes sense. The farm bill authorizes programs that help farmers do their jobs. And when farmers do their jobs, high-quality, nutritious food ends up on my table. But I learned that the farm bill does much more than that.
It also authorizes programs that conserve habitat, reduce soil erosion, and improve water quality on private land. As a former ecologist and lifelong environmentalist, I can definitely get behind that. We also learned that the farm bill includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps or Link, which helps feed millions of low-income Americans every year. It also includes programs that support rural development.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the farm bill for ACES, however, is the fact that it authorizes programs to fund agricultural research. For our researchers to continue to do the cutting-edge work they do, they need grant dollars. As everyone in Illinois knows, our state funding has not been … reliable in the last few years. These federal dollars are crucial for our researchers to continue to be leaders in their fields.
So, whether you eat or live in a rural community or care about the environment or the future of ACES research, the farm bill probably touches your life in some way. To learn more about it, listen to the #askACES podcast today.