Singer, songwriter, social activist, Willie Nelson schools us in yet another reason to support your local farmer.
Our banks were deemed too big to fail, yet our food system's corporations are even bigger. Their power puts our entire food system at stake. Last year the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Justice (DOJ) acknowledged this, hosting a series of workshops that examined corporate concentration in our farm and food system. Despite the hundreds of thousands of comments from farmers and eaters all over the country, a year later the USDA and DOJ have taken no action to address the issue. Recent decisions in Washington make clear that corporate lobbyists have tremendous power to maintain the status quo.
In November, the Obama administration delivered a crushing blow to a crucial rule proposed by the USDA (known as the GIPSA rule), which was meant to level the playing field for independent cattle ranchers. The large meatpackers, who would have lost some of their power, lobbied hard and won to leave the beef market as it is -- ruled by corporate giants. In the same month, new school lunch rules proposed by the USDA that would have brought more fresh food to school cafeterias were weakened by Congress. Food processors -- the corporations that turn potatoes into French fries and chicken into nuggets -- spent $5.6 million to lobby against the new rules and won, with Congress going so far as agreeing to call pizza a vegetable. Both decisions demonstrate that corporate power wins and the health of our markets and our children loses.