Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives and environmental policy are essential, but are not complete solution by themselves. In addition we need laws, oversight and guidelines to help shape our economy and planet to one that is just and sustainable. Here are three pro-business policies the American Sustainable Business Council is working on in conjunction with many other organizations.
1. Returning the Punted Farm Bill
Typically reauthorized every five years, the Farm Bill has a major impact on farmers, consumers, rural communities, the natural environment, the 40-plus million people receiving food assistance and global agribusiness. Instead of finalizing the bill in 2012, Congress punted at the end of the year with a nine-month extension. It contains little to celebrate.
What’s at stake? The extension failed to eliminate direct payment subsidies for commodity production regardless of price and income conditions, instead locking them in for another full year. These payments will cost taxpayers $5 billion. At the same time, many smaller, targeted programs to fund farm and food system reform, water and soil conservation efforts, capital for beginning farmers, rural economic development and job creation and organic food were left out completely. In addition, the extension failed to provide much needed disaster aid to farmers hit by severe weather over the past year.
ASBC will be working with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees in 2013 to pass a more responsible five-year bill.
What can you do?
- Learn about the 2012 Farm Bill and stay tuned for opportunities to advocate for an improved bill in 2013.
- Check out the ASBC Farm Bill Webinar recording.
Next page: Transparency around toxics