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Westchester Locals Take Action for Farm Bill

Saturday, families and local residents gathered in Renaissance Plaza in White Plains to "Green" their St. Patrick's Day and take action for a fair Farm Bill . The event was organized by the consumer group Food & Water Watch, and the group encouraged Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to take the lead for a better food system by introducing a competition title into the farm bill. This set of rules would level the playing field for small and medium sized farmers in New York and across the country.

As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Gillibrand has the opportunity to continue her leadership on food issues stand up for small farmers, consumers and the environment by supporting a fair farm bill. We are losing our small and independent farms at an alarming rate, and Sen. Gillibrand has a chance to really take the lead and support rules that would level the playing field. She has supported reforms to reign in the influence of these big businesses in the past, so we are asking her to continue her efforts and again stand up for New York's consumers and farmers.

Decades of poor food policy have favored big agribusinesses, and, now, the majority of food production, processing, and distribution in the United States – from seeds, to milk, to beef – is controlled by a small number of powerful corporations, such as Monsanto, Cargill and Dean Foods.

The group of families and local residents, and community leaders gathered to take action and had a press conference, where they presented a coalition letter signed by over 50 New York organizations and farmers and held signs with some of the over 1,000 petitions signed by constituents who want a fair farm bill. Will Summers, a local resident and farmer, "Industrial, corporate agriculture is becoming more and more powerful while taking us further and further from a sustainable and just food system. The inclusion of a competition title in the farm bill is an important step in creating a sustainable regional food system that provides us with fresh, local food."

A few large corporations determine most of what Americans eat and effectively force small producers out of the market and out of business. A fair Farm Bill would help to reverse this trend, ensuring that independent farmers have a fair shot at competing in the market. "Westchester County cares about local healthy food, and we can't have thriving local food systems without a vibrant market for small and medium sized farmers," said Piper Martz, senior at Mamaronek High School and president of the Real Food Club.

The farm bill is a key piece of legislation that dictates many of our country's food and agriculture policies, and it has major implications for New York consumers. The federal Farm Bill affects every New York farmer and every New York family. A Fair Farm Bill will help all New Yorkers, and we are encouraging our federal elected officials to make a Fair Farm Bill a top priority. Today's day of action shows that families here understand what the Farm Bill really means for them. They stand with small farmers, and they encourage Senator Gillibrand to continue to do the same.

Food and Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable, so we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Emma Greenbaum is the field organizer for the Food and Water Watch Fair Farm Bill Campaign.

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