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Coverage of Campaign to Target Stabenow on Farm Bill

November 4, 2011

Yesterday, about 25 people gathered at Calder Plaza to stage a media event that they hope will pressure Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow into supporting a major revision of the Farm Bill, revisions that will support small, family farms.

The event featured a spokesperson with the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch and 3 local speakers. The speakers included a mom, a local organic food market owner and a representative from the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council.

The speakers addressed the need to have more local control of the food we all consume, support for small family farms, which can’t compete with agribusiness, and the need to challenge the current Farm Bill provisions which favor large farming operations.

The Grand Rapids Press cited the Food & Water Watch spokesperson and the organic market owner, but the not the other two speakers. WXMI 17 doesn’t cite any of the speakers, just a local farmer who was in attendance at the media event. This same farmer was also cited in the Grand Rapids Press story.

WXMI 17 went with some of the people who were at Calder to Plaza to deliver the postcards that people have signed to Stabenow urging her to take a stand on this issue. The group delivered nearly 3,000 postcards from West Michigan residents. The Grand Rapids Press sought out a response from one of Stabenow’s local staffers who is quoted as saying, “Family farms are critically important to Michigan’s economy. That’s why Senator Stabenow has led efforts to help small farms succeed throughout her time as a member and now as Chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee.”

Unfortunately for readers the Press never verifies such a claim that the Senator has led efforts to “help small farms succeed.” There is also no mention in any of the news coverage of the public hearing Stabenow held on the Farm Bill earlier this year, which would give readers an indication of who she has heard from on this issue.

Lastly, there was also no coverage of the Michigan farmers who are beneficiaries of the current Farm Bill structure. The Environmental Working Group documents that Michigan farmers have received $4.35 billion since 1995 from government subsidies, with the bulk of that money going to a small number of agribusiness companies/farms.  You can search their database to find out which farms/businesses have been the major recipients of government subsidies.

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