Concerned citizens are organizing in Southern Indiana to have their voices heard on the 2018 Farm Bill.
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly sits on the agriculture committee and will play a role in shaping the priorities of the new bill.
The Food and Farms Coalition, organized by Hoosier Action, and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Bloomington, met this week to strategize on how to get Senator Donnelly to prioritize their concerns about sustainable agriculture and SNAP benefits in the state of Indiana.
Representatives from the coalition already spoke out at Donnelly’s Farm Bill Listening Session back in November. They drew attention to the importance of SNAP benefits to people across the state experiencing food insecurity, and they brought up concerns of small farmers.
According to Stephanie Solomon, who attended and spoke at the listening session, Donnelly’s recap mentioned support for large scale agriculture commodity programs, but failed to touch on SNAP benefits, or programs supporting small scale farmers or sustainable agriculture.
The crowd gathered at this week’s Food and Farms Coalition meeting wants to make sure that Donnelly gets the message this time.
Kate Hess Pace is a community organizer with Hoosier Action. She spoke to the group about raising a collective voice:
We are facing unprecedented threats to an already broken system. More corporate control, massive threats to the social safety nets in the next six months. The farm bill is up, and Senator Donnelly sits on the agricultural committee, and doesn’t hear from people like you, not nearly as much as he hears from corporate agriculture.
What would it take to build a Food and Farms Coalition that is drawing more and more people in, advancing an agenda, and essentially building power?
One of the goals set at the meeting was to get Senator Donnelly in a room with 300 people, to listen to their concerns about SNAP benefits, and state support for small farmers and sustainable agriculture in Indiana.
They hope to schedule the meeting for mid February, when the Senator returns to Indiana for the week of Presidents’ Day. They spent a good part of the meeting mapping out strategies and steps to move them toward that goal.