Farm Bill, food regulation, food policy

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The Farm Bill highlights both one of the great divides in our political process, as well as one of the most beneficial partnerships in politics. Historically, partnerships between rural and urban have been key to successful passage of the Farm Bill. However, calls to divide nutrition support and agricultural support programs continue, and there are increasingly diverse viewpoints regarding agricultural programs. To build the Farm Bill of the future, one that is comprehensive and addresses the needs of not just producers, but ultimately everyone impacted by this Bill, there needs to be a broader coalition of partnerships and voices involved in the development process. This required not focusing on the “us vs. them” mentality and distinct silos of programs, but increased dialogue and partnerships between agricultural (traditional and specialty crops), environmental, and consumer organizations. In this current political and social climate, new partnerships and increased dialogue are keys to developing programs and legislation with broad support. I advocate the importance of those involved in representing the food industry to develop an understanding of the agricultural production sector, for those representing all aspects of agriculture to have an understanding of food production, retail, and marketing, and for both to understand the role and impact of the consumer in this process. These broad coalitions of support will help ensure future Congressional support for this type of comprehensive food, farm, rural and nutritional legislation, something that appears increasingly difficult each time this cycle comes around.