$1 billion per page.

January 9, 2019

“On December 20, DT signed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly knows as the Farm Bill) into law. The bill, projected to cost $28 billion over the next five years, is one of the largest spending packages in the country, doling out money for low-income nutrition assistance, crop insurance, commodity subsidies and conservation programs, among other things. Learn more about the triumphs and failures of the new farm bill from Marion Nestle on Food Politics and Dan Imhoff on Civil Eats.” -Local Food Alliance

The bill takes up 807 pages, with a table of contents of 11 pages.  It will cost taxpayers $867 billion over ten years.  That’s more than $1 billion per page.

by Marion Nestle


Recall that more than 75% of Farm Bill expenditures go for SNAP—The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps).

The “bipartisan win”? Attempts to cut SNAP expenditures and introduce work requirements failed to pass (whew), although Congress is still working on ways to cut enrollments.

Commodity payments

The bill allows payments to more distant relatives of farm owners—cousins, nieces, nephews—a gift to the already rich.  Payments can still go to those earning more than $900,000 a year in adjusted gross income (sigh).


The bill authorizes $395 million in research funding over the next 10 years, and small amounts for data collection, offset of certification costs, and technology upgrades.  But the bill weakens restrictions on chemicals that can be used in organic production.


The bill grants $2 million a year for support of hemp as a crop, and authorizes USDA to study the economic viability of its domestic production and sale.  It also authorizes Indian tribes (that’s the term the bill uses) to grow hemp.


The bill allows funding for USDA trade promotion programs in Cuba.

The Managers recognize that expanding trade with Cuba not only represents an opportunity for American farmers and ranchers, but also a chance to improve engagement with the Cuban people in support of democratic ideas and human rights…The Managers expect that the Secretary will work closely with eligible trade organizations to educate them about allowable activities to improve exports to Cuba under the Market Access and Foreign Market Development Cooperator Programs.



Despite Small Wins, the New Farm Bill is a Failure of Imagination


Founded in 1924, Upper Big Wood River Grange, aka the Hailey Grange, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, fraternal organization that advocates for rural America and agriculture. It also is home to the Wood River Seed Library’s Seed Vault. Learn about becoming a member at the Grange’s January 17 Meeting and Annual New Member Drive – 7:15-8:45pm, at Grange Hall, 609 South 3rd Ave. in Hailey. Guest speaker Aimée Christensen, founder and executive director of Sun Valley Institute, will talk about resiliency and food-related risks and opportunities before us.

“I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain.”

[Helen Reddy on the Midnight Special, 1971.]

Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Close, Susan Zirinsky of CBS: The news has been filled with powerful women over 60.


By Jessica Bennett

When Susan Zirinsky takes over CBS News in March, she will be the first woman to hold the job. She will also be the oldest person to assume the role, at 66.

Her appointment was announced just days after Nancy Pelosi, 78, was re-elected Speaker of the House of Representatives — making her the most powerful elected woman in United States history — and Representative Maxine Waters became the first woman and African-American to lead the Financial Services Committee, at age 80.

News of Ms. Zirinsky’s ascension broke on the same evening that 71-year-old Glenn Close bested four younger women to win the Golden Globe for best actress.

It seems that older women, long invisible or shunted aside, are experiencing an unfamiliar sensation: power.

There are more women over 50 in this country today than at any other point in history, according to data from the United States Census Bureau. Those women are healthier, are working longer and have more income than previous generations.

That is creating modest but real progress in their visibility and stature.

“Age — don’t worry about it. It’s a state of mind,” Ms. Zirinsky said on Tuesday when asked about the effect of her age on her new job. “I have so much energy that my staff did an intervention when I tried a Red Bull.”

[Susan Zirinsky at CBS News on Monday.]

Susan Douglas, a professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan who is writing a book on the power of older women, said “a demographic revolution” was occurring — both in the number of women who are working into their 60s and 70s and in the perception, in the wake of #MeToo, of their expertise and value.

“Older women are now saying ‘No, I’m still vibrant, I still have a lot to offer, and I’m not going to be consigned to invisibility,’ ” she said. “These women are reinventing what it means to be an older woman.”

The meaning of work.

“If you look at the report, 21% of sales, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals think that their job is socially useless, as opposed to 0% of librarians.”

World Economic Forum

This is our chance to completely redefine the meaning of work

Alex Gray

(Author and economist Rutger Bregman) ‘Bregman argues that the social usefulness of many jobs has been in decline since the middle of the last century. And the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is only going to exacerbate the problem.

“In the 50s, 60s and 70s, if you were really talented in your field you would probably go into research or government,” he says.

“But then what started to happen in the 80s in advanced economies is that it became much more financially attractive to move into financial services and the tech industry. While there is useful work being done there, we also know, especially with the financial sector, that it involves a huge amount of people getting rich at expense of others.

He adds: “I’m not saying all banking jobs are useless, but it should be a service to help the economy operate more smoothly, not this behemoth.”

Bregman cites the now oft-repeated quote by Jeff Hammerbacher, an early employee of Facebook who quickly became disillusioned with the company’s work, as an example: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”


One crucial element that will drive the redefining of work, according to Bregman, is the introduction of a universal basic income (UBI).

The idea is that governments would hand out an equal stipend to every citizen, regardless of existing income, that would be sufficient to meet basic needs like food and housing.

The point of a UBI is that it would give us the freedom to redefine the nature of work.

“Let’s imagine that you’re 17 or 18 years old, and you’re thinking about what you want to do. Your interests might be the arts, history or anthropology, but your parents or your relatives might urge you to focus on that later, telling you that you ought to look for a job that pays a decent salary.

“So you go and get a well-paid job, do an MBA and 10 to 15 years later you’re depressed and in the grip of a mid-life crisis and then end up doing what you’ve always wanted to.

“The UBI will change this. Kids can fall back on the basic income if their passion doesn’t work out. It cuts out 20 years of waste.”

In the shorter term, he adds, the people who already have meaningful jobs will get increased bargaining power.’


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