Every five years, Congress renews the "Farm Bill," a comprehensive piece of legislation that includes farm and agricultural policies and that also includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The farm bill is perhaps the most critical legislation shaping every aspect of our food system-from how foods are produced to what ends up in grocery stores and on our kitchen tables. Specifically, it presents opportunities to protect farmland, promote production of healthier products, create new market opportunities for farmers, support beginning and minority farmers, and protect the environment. It also includes provisions concerning healthy food retail and federal nutrition programs.
While advocates have had a voice in shaping the farm bill for many years, many interest groups have previously worked in silos to ensure that their issues were heard on Capitol Hill. The most recent farm bill, passed in June 2008, was a chance for new partners to come together to determine mutually beneficial goals that address the needs of farmers, rural and urban communities, and all people who depend on a healthy food system.